June 3, 2022

Celebrating PRIDE Month

Russ Feingold President

Russ Feingold
ACS President Russ Feingold

Happy Pride Month! Fifty-three years ago this month, the Stonewall Riots gave birth to the modern gay rights movement. Since then, the movement has achieved enormous progress in securing LGBTQ+ rights. Every June is an opportunity to celebrate the progress made and the incredible ongoing work to achieve LGBTQ+ lived equality. Particularly this year, when we are confronting a wave of egregious anti-trans legislation aimed at marginalizing and silencing trans people, it is imperative that we come together to celebrate Pride Month and the LGTBTQ+ community.

For ACS, this includes celebrating the LGBTQ+ leaders on the bench. There are currently 15 openly LGBTQ+ Article III judges on the federal bench. We need more! Our judiciary should reflect the diversity of the public it serves, including the LGBTQ+ community, and right now, it does not.

This is why ACS is committed to diversifying the federal bench through our Path to the Bench Project. I want to give a special shout out to our working groups, made up of lawyers who are active in their states and communities. We now have 55 working groups in 42 states who are identifying and recruiting diverse, qualified judicial candidates. It is a credit to our working groups that the Biden-Harris administration has already had more openly LGBTQ+ nominees confirmed to the federal bench than the previous administration. This includes Beth Robinson, who became the first openly LGBTQ+ woman to serve on a federal appellate court when she was confirmed to the 2nd Circuit last November. And there are more LGBTQ+ nominees in the pipeline, with our working groups already having recommended 59 LGBTQ+ lawyers to the White House.

The Supreme Court’s draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health was an ominous warning sign of how this conservative supermajority may attempt to rewrite substantive due process in this country. Despite Justice Alito’s assurances in the draft opinion that the majority’s reasoning “concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right,” it is too great a risk to take him at his word. The right to marriage, to contraception, and a host of life’s other most intimate decisions we now take for granted may not be as sacrosanct as we would like to believe. This makes building the progressive bench all the more important, including state courts that may soon be the frontlines of defending core civil rights.

As we respond to what can feel like endless challenges to our rights and to our dignity, we must be relentless in our commitment to the courts. A significant reason why progressives feel like they’ve been caught on the back foot right now is because the Right has spent decades building a judiciary in its image and is now reaping the rewards. The work to diversify the federal bench with fair-minded, qualified judges is not short term, but it is absolutely necessary to achieve and solidify nearly every legal reform on which we work.

Thank you to everyone in our network working to achieve LGBTQ+ lived equality. I hope to meet many of you at our upcoming national convention in just a couple weeks’ time. While in-person registration has closed, you can still register to attend our national convention virtually. We will be hosting a breakout session on the weaponizing of “parental rights,” including the use of parental rights by state legislatures in an attempt to justify legislation aimed at prohibiting teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. I hope you will join us for this discussion. Register today.

Civil rights, Equality and Liberty, LGBTQ Equality