- Former staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Prison Project
- Founder of Alliance for Justice
- Seeks to prevent the confirmation of originalist judges to the federal courts
- Promotes the confirmation of left-wing activist judges
Born in 1948, Nan Aron holds a BA from Oberlin College and a JD from the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. From 1974-77 she worked as a trial attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, litigating race- and sex-discrimination cases against employers and labor unions. From 1977-79 she was a staff attorney with the ACLU‘s National Prison Project, which “challenged conditions in state prison systems through lawsuits in federal and state courts.” And in 1979 she founded the Alliance For Justice (AFJ), where she has served as president ever since.
In 1985 Aron launched AFJ’s Judicial Selection Project, an initiative that systematically promotes the appointment and confirmation of leftwing-activist federal judges, while opposing and slandering Republican-appointed originalist judges as conservative “extremists.”
In 1987 Aron was instrumental in scuttling President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Judge Robert Bork for the U.S. Supreme Court. The day after the Bork nomination was announced, Aron, promising a “mass mobilization,” led a number of fellow AFJ operatives in closed-door strategy meetings with Democrat members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “We’re in triple gear,” Aron declared, exhorting the American Bar Association to brand Bork as a right-wing extremist who was unqualified to sit on the Court.
In the 1991 Senate hearings to confirm Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, Aron and AFJ declared that there was “something in [Thomas’s] record to offend most everybody,” including his “radical philosophy that exalts his own views over the Constitution.” When the first wave of smears failed to derail the Thomas nomination, AFJ’s researchers dredged up Anita Hill and her allegations of Thomas’s sexual harassment.
In 1999, during the Clinton administration, Aron stated that the President of the United States “has a duty to fill judicial vacancies and appoint jurists who share his views.” But during the George W. Bush years that followed (2001-09), Aron supported ten Senate filibusters against the President’s judicial appointments. Some examples of Bush nominees whom Aron opposed:
- In 2002, Aron and AFJ attacked Judge Charles Pickering—selected by Bush for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals—as an anti-civil-rights “throwback to the old, segregated South.”
- Characterizing Bush’s 2005 nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court as “distressing,” Aron suggested that Roberts “embraces a judicial philosophy that is insensitive to the rights and protections that, over the past century, have brought us closer to realizing the twin ideals of freedom and equality.” Specifically, Aron claimed that Roberts was dedicated to the “weakening” of “women’s-rights and civil-rights laws,” and to “cutting back” on “the vital role of our courts in enforcing legal protections” for “ordinary people” whose liberties are threatened by “government and other powerful interests.”
- In 2006 Aron said that Bush Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito’s “record” as a judge was “deeply troubling,” insofar as he “has consistently ruled in favor of powerful interests and to narrow individual rights.”
Aron has long viewed the judiciary as a vehicle through which the Left could effectively circumvent Congress in passing public policy. For instance, early in the George W. Bush presidency—when Republicans were in control of Congress—Aron said, “we have to look to the courts to create new rights that we won’t be able to get from the legislature.”
In contrast to her consistent antipathy for Republican judicial nominees, Aron has invariably supported the nominees of leftist Democrats. When Barack Obama nominee Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed to the Supreme Court in August 2009, for instance, Aron called it “a historic, groundbreaking event that marks the start of a new day for justice in America,” and “just the beginning of the significant change that President Obama can bring to our judicial system.”
Aron likewise applauded Obama’s 2010 Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, as a woman of “sterling academic and professional qualifications” as well as a “willingness to stand up for the rights of ordinary Americans.” The Kagan appointment also “represents an historic step forward as women continue to take their rightful place on the highest court in the land,” Aron added.
In response to a September 2011 report indicating that nearly three-fourths of all federal judges who theretofore had been confirmed under President Obama were women and/or nonwhite minorities, Aron said: “The more diverse the courts, the more confidence people have in our judicial system. Having a diverse judiciary also enriches the decision-making process.”
When Obama in 2013 sought to push through the appointments of three far-left judges to the 11-member U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia—widely regarded as the nation’s second-most-influential court—Aron approved the measure as a “critically important” response to Senate Republicans who had previously “frustrated the president’s agenda” via filibuster. Indispensable to Obama’s effort was Senator Harry Reid‘s November 2013 invocation of the so-called “nuclear option” that reduced, from 60 to 50, the number of Senate votes required to block the minority (Republican) party’s ability to filibuster the confirmation of Obama nominees whom it disfavored. Aron praised Reid’s move, saying: “There was no choice. The Republican minority had turned the existing rules into weapons of mass obstruction.”
But when the Republican Party subsequently recaptured the White House, Aron was back in obstructionist mode. When President Donald Trump in 2017 nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, for example, Aron characterized the nominee as an “extreme,” “radical-right judge” who “would make the courts a rubber stamp for large corporations” while advocating “legal views that [would] gut protections for clean air and clean water, safe food and medicine, for workers’ rights and for consumers and investors.” “I think the [Democratic] base would be very unforgiving to [Senate] Democrats who prevented a filibuster from taking place,” Aron added.
When President Trump in 2018 nominated Brett Kavanaugh to fill yet another vacant Supreme Court seat, Aron denounced the Kavanaugh as someone who, “time and again,” had “chosen Big Brother over the Bill of Rights”; who had “spent his [entire] career pushing for a radical rearranging of our constitutional system of checks and balance[s]”; and who “thinks presidents should be above the law.”
Just as Aron has consistently backed Democratic judicial nominees over the course of her career, so has she supported activist organizations — no matter how corrupt — that promote leftist political and economic principles. For instance, when the community organization ACORN was embroiled in multiple egregious scandals in 2009, Aron came to its defense, emphasizing how much good work the group had done to help “the powerless in our society” gain access to “vital services.” Dismissing ACORN’s critics as nothing more than foot-soldiers in “a decades-long effort to ‘defund the left’,” she exhorted Congress to “take a deep breath” and give the organization a chance to “get its house in order.”
In 2010, Aron spoke at the annual “America’s Future Now Conference run by the Campaign for America’s Future.
During her tenure at AFJ, Aron has developed a number of advocacy training programs for young people. These include such notable initiatives as “Co/Motion” and the “Student Action Campaign” (originally known as “First Monday”), both of which were created to “educate and inspire students to engage in social justice activism.” To date, tens of thousands of trainees have participated in these and other AFJ programs.
For additional information on Nan Aron, click here.
Further Reading: “100 Most Powerful Women: Nan Aron” (Washingtonian, 6-1-2006); “Nan Aron” (LinkedIn.com, AFJ.org, KeyWiki.org); “Nan Aron’s Blog” (5-20-2019); “Alliance Against Justice” (by Greg Yardley, 5-29-2003, re: Aron’s remarks on Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, Charles Pickering); “The Hate America, Hate-[John] Roberts Left” (by Jacob Laksin, 7-27-2005); “Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Alito Nomination” (CNS News, January 2006, re: Aron’s remarks about John Roberts); “Statement from Nan Aron on the Nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court” (PRWeb.com, 5-11-2010); “To Avert Disaster, the Senate Must Reject Neil Gorsuch” (by Nan Aron, 2-2-2017); “‘The Base Is Very Fired Up’ Over Gorsuch Nomination: Nan Aron” (AFJActionCampaign.org, 4-4-2017); “We Can’t Afford to Take a Chance with Brett Kavanaugh” (by Nan Aron, 8-1-2018); “Let ACORN Get Its House in Order” (by Nan Aron, 11-23-2009).