December 23, 2022

Wrapping Up 2022

Russ Feingold President

We are in the final days of 2022. It’s been a jam-packed year, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that these final days were jam packed. I wanted to share a few final notes before signing off for the year.

First, I hope everyone was able to watch, whether live or online afterwards, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech to Congress. He spoke eloquently about how U.S. support for Ukraine is an investment in global democracy and security. Our support for Ukraine is in many respects selfish and that’s not a bad thing. We are investing in our own democracy when we invest in Ukraine. This conflict is the starkest example of the battle happening across the globe between democracy and authoritarianism. If Russia is allowed to topple Ukraine’s democracy, all democracies become more fragile and vulnerable. This includes our own.

It is fitting then that President Zelenskyy’s visit came the same week that the January 6th Select Committee wrapped up its nearly 18-month investigation into an attempted overthrow of our own democracy here at home. We at ACS released this statement in response to the Committee’s final report. The statement reads in part:

ACS shares the Committee’s conviction that the work to safeguard our democracy cannot stop with the report. We cannot take for granted that our institutions will hold in the future if people, including a former president, go on to prove that they are above the law.

In addition to the ongoing investigations at the local, state, and federal levels, ACS urges the Biden administration and Congress to review the Committee’s recommendations and undertake all steps necessary to safeguard our constitutional democracy and ensure accountability.

Lastly, the 117th Congress wrapped up this week. In total, this Senate confirmed 97 judges in the first two years of the Biden administration, 28 circuit court judges and 68 district court judges. The number is historic, but most importantly, President Biden’s nominees and now federal judges represent unprecedented diversity for our federal bench, both demographic and professional diversity. And I am confident in saying that President Biden’s impact on the federal courts is just getting started.

This week, amidst everything else going on, the White House announced another slate of judicial nominees. And looking to the new year, Senator Schumer has said that judges will be front of mind for the new Senate. While we are convinced the Senate could and should have confirmed more judges this fall, we are optimistic about the next two years and the opportunity to further diversify the federal bench. As we consistently say, the federal bench should reflect the public it serves.

I want to wish everyone a safe and restful holiday season and happy New Year. 2022 was a consequential year. We are and will continue to grapple with the devastating consequences of the Dobbs decision and other legally unsound Supreme Court decisions. At the same time, voters unflinchingly took to the polls in support of democracy and the rule of law this past November. There are highlights and lowlights to be sure. My biggest takeaway is that the ACS community met the moment that was 2022. And that gives me confidence that we can do the same next year as we look to confirm more diverse, qualified judges, confront the latest Supreme Court decisions, counter the far Right and its radical legal theories, and work more at the state and local level to protect the rule of law and vindicate fundamental freedoms. In preparation for a full year ahead, please take time to enjoy friends and family this holiday season and, most of all, to take care of yourself. I look forward to seeing and working with all of you in 2023.

Democracy and Elections, January 6th