Justice Kennedy is retiring, now what?


Update – July 9: President Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. Click here to read Alliance for Justice’s statement on the nomination and learn more about Kavanaugh.

Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced that he will retire from the Supreme Court effective July 31, 2018. This will provide President Trump a second opportunity to nominate a justice to the Supreme Court, likely an ultra-conservative in the mold of Neil Gorsuch. As Supreme Court justices serve for life, every issue – reproductive rights, immigration, marriage equality, gun control, employment rights, education, criminal justice, the environment – is at stake.

If you are a 501(c)(3) public charity, you can weigh in on and advocate for or against judicial nominees. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has recognized that influencing the confirmation of federal judges is like influencing any other legislative vote through lobbying. Accordingly, advocating for or against a judicial nominee would be considered lobbying. You can lobby, as long as you stay within your lobbying limits. Your lobbying limit is determined by which IRS test you operate under, either the “insubstantial part” test or the “501(h) expenditure” test, the latter of which provides very generous lobbying limits.

If you are a 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5) (frequently labor unions), or a 501(c)(6), you can engage in an unlimited amount of lobbying, though you should ensure it’s tied to your exempt purpose.

Alliance for Justice has worked on judicial nominees for decades. We have looked into judge’s records, producing reports and fact sheets on hundreds of them, including over 40 of President Trump’s nominees. Supreme Court justices serve for life and can shape policy for generations. We, as part of the progressive movement, will advocate against any judge who will dismantle the rights of all Americans.

If you have any questions about your advocacy related activities, you can get technical assistance hotline by calling us at 1-800-NP-LOBBY, or online here.

You can learn more about Alliance for Justice’s work on judicial nominees here, and our research on Trump’s initial nominees here.

Looking for more information? Download our key factsheets:

Confirmation of Federal Judges and Executive Branch Nominees: What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know

Foundation Support for Public Charities that Influence Judicial and Executive Branch Confirmation Votes

Commenting on Candidates and Campaigns: How 501(c)(3)s Can Respond During an Election Year on Judicial Nominations and Remain Nonpartisan