AFJ Launches State Court Justice Project To Educate the Public and Improve Transparency of State Courts
New AFJ resource provides comprehensive guide to understanding the state court selection process, educates the public on state court justices’ stances on major issues.
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 23, 2022 – Today, Alliance for Justice announced the launch of its State Court Justice Project, a comprehensive new resource aimed at educating the public on the impact and importance of state courts. As part of the State Court Justice Project’s launch, AFJ has created a new digital tool, the State Court Hub, making it easy for voters, advocates, journalists and other interested members of the public to learn how each state selects justices for their highest court and provides information on important decisions that state courts have made that directly impact people’s lives. The new State Court Hub also provides timely information about how interested members of the public can get involved in the judicial selection process.
“As the Supreme Court retreats from its historic responsibility of protecting and upholding our constitutional rights and protections, state courts are at the front lines of the fight to protect essential rights like abortion access, LGBTQ+ equality, voting rights and environmental justice,” said Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks. “AFJ’s State Court Justice Project is dedicated to helping the public understand the critical importance of state supreme courts, and how they are constituted.”
An estimated 95% of all court legal cases are resolved in state courts, which frequently rule on important issues like abortion rights, immigration, voting rights, the environment, criminal justice, workers’ rights, and consumer protections that directly impact the health, safety and financial wellbeing of millions of people. For example, last fall the Oklahoma Supreme Court blocked three laws from taking effect restricting abortion rights in the state. State courts also play an important role in ensuring fairness in the redistricting process for federal and state legislative districts.
By providing timely information about upcoming elections, the State Court Justice Project is also intended to help alleviate the widespread problem of under voting, where voters decline to vote in important state court races due to lack of information on the candidates on the ballot. There are currently 39 states where voters directly elect state court justices, but voters often do not know when these elections are, who they’re voting for, or what issues matter most to the different candidates.
“State courts have a massive impact on the daily lives of millions of people, but for much of the public, state courts are entirely invisible,” said Alliance for Justice Legal Director for State Courts Jake Faleschini. “For over 42 years, AFJ has educated the public about the importance of our justice system, and the State Court Justice Project is an important step forward in equipping people to advocate for judicial fairness in their states. We hope the State Courts Justice Project is a useful resource for increasing transparency around these important judicial bodies and for educating the public about how to get involved in the fight for a fair and impartial judiciary.”
The State Court Justice Project makes it easy to answer these questions and learn more about the judicial selection process in each state. It will also highlight states with particularly high-profile upcoming vacancies with additional details about the nominees and issues at play.