December 17, 2021

Let our Collective Action for Change Inspire Us in 2022

Russ Feingold President

Russ Feingold
ACS President Russ Feingold

As we wrap up 2021 and prepare for 2022, I want to take a moment to recognize all that we have accomplished together this year. It has not been the easiest year for our families, our communities, or our country. In addition to the ongoing pandemic, we are confronting a litany of threats to our democratic legitimacy. This includes what is happening at the hands of this packed Supreme Court, and the stark reality that our civil rights, civil liberties, and our democratic values are at stake. I’ve had a number of conversations in recent weeks about the challenges in finding motivation to persevere through it all. I wanted to share with you what I’ve shared in those conversations, namely how I draw my hope and inspiration from you, our network, and the work of our organization. We have so much to be proud of this past year and to be inspired by for the year ahead.

One year ago, we provided the incoming Biden administration with a plethora of names of qualified and diverse candidates for the federal bench. The administration met the moment. It nominated, and the Senate confirmed, more judges in its first six months than any previous administration in the last 50 years, and the work continues. We released a report last week detailing the numbers and highlighting the unprecedented diversity of the people nominated. Together, we are making progress in getting closer to a federal judiciary that reflects the diversity of the public it serves. This is critical to building public trust and ensuring the credibility of our federal courts.

In June, we announced ACS’s support for a Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Commission (TRHT). As the country’s foremost progressive legal organization, it is imperative that ACS help transform the many laws and legal systems that still entrench racial hierarchy in this country. Zinelle, our executive vice president, and I asked our chapters and our members to join us in supporting TRHT. I’m so grateful for how our members and our chapters have stepped up by supporting TRHT related initiatives in their communities. I look forward to working with you to build on these efforts in the coming year.

Also in 2021, we strongly advocated for Supreme Court reform. If we are to protect the guardrails of our democracy, we have to restore the credibility of our highest court and ensure that it fulfills its mission of actually protecting our constitutional rights. This requires structural and non-structural reform, including redressing the Right’s packing of the Court. Just in the past few months, we’ve seen a marked change in how Supreme Court reform is discussed. No longer a far-fetched notion, the need for Supreme Court reform is gaining traction amongst elected officials, scholars, and voters. This issue has become mainstream, and I believe this is in part a credit to our organization’s and network’s activism and participation.

The same is true of our advocacy for filibuster reform. We have spent this year calling for reform of this Senate rule to enable the passage of legislation that is critical to protecting our democracy, namely on voting rights. Chapters across the country organized around this, spotlighting why filibuster reform is urgent and how it can be achieved. In these final weeks of the year, we’re finally seeing traction on this front. The Senate proved again last week that the filibuster can be reformed. We will continue to advocate that our elected officials prioritize democracy over parliamentary procedure.

As we look to 2022, we are already gearing up for GOTV and voter education around the importance of Secretaries of State, State Attorneys General, state court judges, and the many positions that garner less attention than top of the ticket races, but that are no less critical to the functioning of our democracy. Look for more ACS content around the midterms starting in the new year.

I am continuously inspired by the impact of our collective activism. Our network has found ways to join forces and build community within their schools, their states, and even over the Internet. Thank you for all of your activism, expertise, resilience, and commitment to the progressive legal movement. As we look ahead to 2022, I am relying on you all to ramp up the important work you’re doing. We need your activism on social media, in your classrooms, and in your communities. This network is a force for progressive change, and we are just getting started.