For Immediate Release

Septmeber 21, 2020

Press Contact

RELEASE: Over 30 Grassroots Racial and Social Justice Groups Form Coalition to Add SCOTUS Seats, Eliminate the Filibuster, and Push for Bold Democracy Reforms

Just Democracy Says Progress on Racial and Social Justice Can’t Happen Without Fixing Our Democracy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the nation mourns the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a new grassroots coalition of racial and social justice groups is calling to add seats to the Supreme Court and eliminate the filibuster as a part of a package of bold democracy reforms. The group – Just Democracy – says the tragedy of Justice Ginsburg’s death, and Senator McConnell’s rush to confirm her replacement, underscores the fact that America’s democracy was built to preserve white supremacy and exclude people of color.

Just Democracy is calling for bold structural changes to American democracy, including:  

  • Reforming the Federal Courts, including adding seats to the Supreme Court; 
  • Eliminating the Filibuster, which President Obama recently called a Jim Crow relic;
  • Abolishing the Electoral College; and
  • Granting Statehood to Washington, D.C.

Coalition members work in communities of color from around the nation, mobilizing around issues from policing and gun violence to reproductive justice, LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights and climate change. The group says that real change on those issues and more, will require structural reforms to American democracy, removing barriers that block the will of the people. 

“Our democracy has always been rigged to block Black and Brown people from the promise of freedom, equality and justice,” said 51 for 51 campaign director and strategic advisor to Just Democracy, Stasha Rhodes. “The death of Justice Ginsburg has left millions of people fearing that their basic human dignity will be denied by the court. Racial justice, reproductive rights, marriage equality and gender equity are all under threat with a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court. This tragic event shows more than ever how broken our democracy is and how few guarantees exist to protect Black and Brown Americans. We can’t try to solve 21st century problems with 18th century tools, so we have to get to the root of the problem and reform our institutions, including the Supreme Court.”

“We are in a moment where people are in the streets demanding change for their country and their communities. For generations, Black and Brown communities have shouldered the burden of our broken democracy and enough is enough. It is time to cut through the cynicism and the rhetoric and get to the heart of the problem. We must change the rules of our democracy in order to make real progress towards racial justice,” said Stephany Spaulding, founder of Truth and Conciliation.

“We are reimagining democracy in America with Black and Brown voices at the forefront of this revolution. To rewrite and redefine the possible requires us to change the rules of a system rigged to exclude Black and Brown communities. Eliminating the filibuster and changing the game will allow our elected officials and our communities to finally make the progress we’ve been fighting for for decades. The Working Families Party is proud to join Just Democracy and continue the fight for racial justice,” said Maurice Mitchell, National Director of the Working Families Party. 

“Justice Ginsburg’s passing and the fight over the future of the Supreme Court immediately afterward highlights a solemn truth that Black and Brown people in America have always known: our democracy was broken from the start, with ‘democratic’ structures built to preserve white supremacy, and systematically exclude Black and Brown people. So it’s time to rebuild from the bottom up. We should rebalance the Supreme Court by adding new seats, and eliminate the filibuster, removing one of the greatest barriers to transformative legislation.” said Tammy Boyd, Chief Policy Officer Counsel of The Black Women's Imperative.

“For decades our communities have called out for change, and for decades we’ve seen no change. We cannot keep using the same old playbook and expecting a different result. That means educating ourselves and each other on the ways the system is rigged, and fighting to change the rules. We’re proud to join Just Democracy and fight to break down the obstacles to progress like the filibuster, and start to make real change for our communities,” said Greg Jackson, National Advocacy Director of Community Justice Action Fund.

More on Just Democracy’s policy platform:

Reforming the Federal Courts

Our judicial system has not protected the rights of Black and Brown Americans, and the death of Justice Ginsburg shows how easily hard-fought victories can be stripped away. President Trump and Senate Republicans have appointed hundreds of extremist, ultra-conservative judges to lifetime positions where they can strip protections from people of color and further entrench legal structures that codify discrimination and inequality. Now, they are working to jam through another ultra-conservative Justice to the Supreme Court and imperil the human rights of all Americans. Adding seats on the Supreme Court and diversifying our federal judiciary is a key first step in mending our broken court system.

Abolishing the Filibuster 

The way the Senate is currently apportioned, just 16 percent of the population is allotted 50 percent of the representation in the Senate. This enables Senators representing a tiny fraction of Americans to stop legislation supported by the vast majority. For the last 150 years, the filibuster has consistently been used to block civil rights bills and bills that would benefit communities of color across the country. It’s time for a change.

Making D.C. a State

More than 700,000 people live in D.C. — more than Vermont or Wyoming — and most of them are people of color. Without statehood, they are denied the basic right to full representation in Congress. Yet, D.C. residents pay more in federal taxes per capita than any state. There are just three Black Senators to represent almost 44 million Black Americans, and only four Latinx Senators to represent over 60 million Latinx Americans. Our institutions should look like our country, and making D.C. a state is a major step towards that.

Abolishing the Electoral College

The Electoral College violates the principle of “one person, one vote.” It was created to protect the institution of slavery, and today it continues to protect white supremacy. Many of the most populous states in the country are also the most diverse — California, Texas, and New York, to name a few — but their votes are not weighed equally when it comes to choosing the President. In 2016, Hillary Clinton received 2.8 million more votes than Donald Trump, but our system denied the will of the people. This is just the most recent example — 4 out of 5 sitting conservative Supreme Court Justices were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote — unelected judges nominated by an unjustly elected president.

Meet Our Coalition 

Just Democracy is an intersectional coalition with racial justice at its core — uplifting voices from all walks of American life that are too often left out of the conversation. The coalition is made up of over 30 progressive organizations and counting, working across issue areas. It mobilizes thousands who know that advancing social and racial justice issues first requires bold structural democracy reform.

Just Democracy coalition members include:

Name of Organization — Issue Area

51 for 51 — D.C. Statehood

A Little Piece of Light— Criminal Justice

Alliance of Families For Justice — Criminal Justice

Arizona Coalition for Change — Education, Civics, Criminal Justice

B.R.A.V.E. Youth Leaders — Gun Violence Prevention

Black Male Voter Project — Civic Engagement

Black Women for Wellness Action Project — Reproductive Justice

Black Women Organized for Political Action — Civil Rights and Racial Justice

Black Women's Health Imperative — Health Care

Caravan For Justice — Racial Justice

Community Change — Economic Empowerment

Colorado Black Women for Political Action — Civic Engagement

Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Repro Rights — Reproductive Justice

Community Justice Reform Coalition (CJRC) — Gun Violence Prevention

FaithWorks — Faith and Civic Engagement

Financial Services Innovation Coalition — Economic Empowerment

Health in Her Hue — Health Care

Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression — Racial Justice, Education

Legal Empowerment & Advocacy Hub (LEAH) — Criminal Justice System

Lighthouse Consulting, Colorado — Criminal Justice

Long Live Go Go — D.C. Statehood

National Black Justice Coalition — LGBTQ+ Equality

Not Just a Black Body — Health Care

North Carolina Black Alliance — Civic Engagement

Pure Legacee — Criminal Justice System

Purpose Over Pain — Gun Violence Prevention

SisterLove — Health Care, Reproductive Justice

Soul 2 Soul Sisters — Reproductive Rights

Southern Christian Leadership Conference — Civil Rights

Team Enough — Gun Violence Prevention

TransLatin@ Coalition — Transgender Rights

Truth and Conciliation — Racial Justice

We Testify — Reproductive Rights

Women Investing In Leadership Development (WIILD) — Faith and Civic Engagement

Working Families Party — Economic Justice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *