January 4, 2024

Priorities for 2024

Russ Feingold President

Happy New Year! And what a year it is poised to be. 2024 could prove definitive in our country’s struggle between securing the promise of a multiracial democracy and succumbing to authoritarianism. That is the challenge before us, and that is why ACS is starting the year with four key priorities:

Ensure President Biden matches or better yet exceeds his predecessor’s total of 234 judicial appointments in four years. As you’ve heard me say before, to have a multiracial democracy, we need a multiracial judiciary that is committed to upholding the rule of law and vindicating our fundamental freedoms. Right now, there are nearly 90 current or future vacancies on the federal judiciary, and the White House and Senate need to be laser focused on filling as many of them as possible with diverse, qualified judges. We are calling for a minimum of 70 judicial appointments in 2024, which would ensure that President Biden not only matches, but exceeds his predecessor’s pace of 234 appointments in four years.

Convene the progressive legal community in Atlanta, Georgia for ACS’s 2024 National Convention. Our country’s struggle between democracy and authoritarianism is playing out geographically as well as politically. Increasingly, we are a divided country, between red states and blue states, between red courts and blue courts, between urban areas and coastal states, and southern, exurban, and rural states and regions. This geographic divide is not random. The rise of authoritarianism in this country is rooted in white nationalism born in the American South, where it still has a stronghold to this day. ACS is focused on empowering the progressive legal movement and supporting progressive lawyers, students, activists, judges, scholars, and elected officials in southern, exurban, and rural areas. As part of this, we are hosting our national convention this year in Atlanta on June 6-8. If you haven’t already registered, now is a great time to do so. I look forward to seeing you there!

Recruit at least 500 poll workers across the country. Over 300 people took our poll worker pledge in 2022, and we are striving to recruit even more this year. Poll worker math is simple. Without poll workers, polling places can be forced to close or voters may endure long lines and delays in voting. Recent election cycles have seen increased threats and attempts at intimidation of poll workers, resulting in many long-serving poll workers opting to retire. This is why we are recruiting folks from across our network and across the country to serve as poll workers during this most consequential election cycle. Not only does our democracy rely on poll workers come election time, but lawyers and law students make excellent poll workers. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to take our pledge and plan ahead to serve this election cycle. Poll workers are needed in primary and general elections, and primary elections kick off in just a matter of weeks.

Educate and mobilize voters around down ballot races, with an emphasis on judicial elections. While the presidential election is likely to dominate headlines this election cycle, our democracy will be heavily influenced by the outcome of down ballot races, particularly those for Secretary of State, state attorney general, and state court judges. These positions are on the frontlines of upholding the rule of law and safeguarding democracy in their states. These positions can also be used to erode the rule of law, fundamental freedoms, and the guardrails of our democracy depending on who holds them. This November, voters in six states will cast ballots for Secretary of State who serve as their state’s chief election officer, in 10 states for attorney general, and in 33 states for state supreme court justices. I want to underscore that last one. As we have experienced since Dobbs, state supreme courts have enormous power over our rights and our lives. This is why state supreme court races are becoming so hotly contested and more and more expensive. It is imperative that voters plan now to vote their full ballot and pay attention to down ballot races. Over the coming months, ACS will be spotlighting down ballot races across the country as part of our effort to educate and mobilize voters ahead of Election Day. For more information about these positions, check out our website.