Tested but not deterred
We now know that new leadership will control the House of Representatives over the next two years. And while Tuesday’s elections were not the resounding tsunami that many had predicted, we must all be ready to take a stand and act to defend the values, the laws – and the loved ones – we hold dear. Justice, equality and progress are all on the line.
In the months and years following the 2016 election, we saw how important our legal system was in trying to hold back the worst of the assaults on our democracy. It wasn’t perfect – the system buckled under the weight of the oppressive onslaught of destruction and divisiveness, and we’re still feeling the effects of a Supreme Court that lurched sharply to the right – but it did not break. And the hard work of activists from across the country to protect their families, communities and values reinforced the barrier between what we cherish and what we fear.
Now, we will be tested again. The good news is that there are safeguards in place – the Senate, the President and our courts – to help keep some of what’s coming at bay. But nonetheless, we must be vigilant and be ready to act.
The new House majority includes election-deniers, conspiracy theorists, racists and demagogues who will now have more power in Congress and more say over the course of our country. At a time when anti-Semitism is exploding out in ugly display across our country, when being Black or brown means living in fear in our own homes and communities, and when our LGBTQ loved ones are being erased from classrooms and attacked in legislatures, we must be ready to defend Democracy and stand up to tyranny.
When we speak up, mobilize, come together in community and use the tools we have at our disposal – organizing, litigating and changing minds through sharing stories – we can help hold back the worst of what they throw at us and build the power and possibilities of a future more vibrant than we can imagine today.
We know, from our experience in 2017, that an attack on everyone’s access to our justice system may well be on the new leadership’s agenda. Then, a similarly configured House passed two bills seeking to close courthouse doors. One bill would have eliminated nearly all class actions, and the other would have sharply limited the damages available in medical malpractice cases involving nursing homes or in personal injury cases involving pharmaceuticals. We sprang into action, publishing a series of educational pieces demonstrating how important and valuable those types of cases are. We worked as part of a community, and joined with allies like our friends at AAJ, to put an enormous amount of effort into a very successful campaign fighting back against these terrible bills. And we stand ready to do even more if bills of this sort – or legislation attacking our loved ones and threatening our civil rights and democracy – start to gain momentum again.
We will need you with us – and with all of our allies, clients and cherished communities – in the weeks and months ahead. And yes, we will need your financial support, too. But what we need most of all, right now, is the willpower to push forward in defense of what we believe, what we value and what we love.
At Public Justice, that means standing up for our clients in court and standing with our allies in our shared work and struggle.
With the combined strength of our movements behind us, we will not be deterred.