Alliance for Justice (AFJ)

Color logo for Alliance for Justice (link)


Tax ID:


DUNS Number:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2020):

Revenue: $5,142,561
Expenses: $5,477,838
Assets: $13,824,890


1979 in Washington, D.C.


Nan Aron

Issue Area:

Left-Wing Judicial Policy Advocacy

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The Alliance for Justice (AFJ) is a left-of-center legal policy coalition composed of over 100 organizations. The group is best known for the Judicial Selection Project, which seeks to promote left-wing and Democratic-appointed judges while defeating conservative and Republican-appointed judges. 1 The project has helped to turn the process of nominating judges into a highly partisan process.

In addition, the AFJ has received funding from numerous prominent left-of-center funders, including the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation associated with billionaire progressive investor Warren Buffett and his family, the Open Society Foundations associated with billionaire liberal investor George Soros, the Ford Foundation, and the California Endowment, among others.2


For more information, see Nan Aron

The alliance was founded in 1979 by Nan Aron, a former American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staff attorney.3 In 1985, it launched the Judicial Selection Project to monitor judicial appointments. The project gathered opposition research in order to mount full-fledged campaigns against then-President Ronald Reagan’s judicial appointments.4

In 1987, the group claimed its most famous scalp when it was part of the effort to defeat the Supreme Court nomination of D.C. Court of Appeals Judge Robert Bork. Aron claimed that the assault on Bork was “in triple gear” and that AFJ had constructed most of the case against him.5 Before the Bork confirmation hearings, Supreme Court nominations were largely limited to the qualifications of the judges. The politics of the justices rarely played a role in the confirmation hearings. At the time, Aron told Time Magazine, “This battle won’t involve smoking guns or skeletons. It’s going to come down to philosophy.” 6

The AFJ led the fight against Clarence Thomas when he was appointed by President George H.W. Bush. When President George W. Bush nominated John Roberts and then Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, the AFJ also led the fight against their confirmations.7

Member Organizations

The AFJ claims it has over 120 member organizations. Those members include American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Consumers Union, Drug Policy Alliance, Earthjustice, NARAL, National Education Association, Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, and Transgender Law Center.8


The most notable aspect of the organization is the Judicial Selection Project which tracks potential judicial nominees. The project helps disseminate damaging information about conservative judicial nominees.

AFJ’s largest project by budget is its advocacy work, called Bolder Advocacy. It works on educating left-wing groups on how to promote liberal policies by offering guidance on what the IRS defines as “allowable lobbying.” It also provides help on everything from influencing ballot propositions to forming an organization.9

The organization also makes documentaries through its First Monday documentary series. These are documentaries that are targeted at law students, encouraging them to work on various left-wing causes. For example in 2001, the Surdna Foundation donated $100,000 to AFJ to help build a network to advance gun control efforts. That year, AFJ released a documentary called America Up In Arms and Deadly Business:  How the Gun Industry and the NRA Market Mayhem.10

Following the 2020 general election, Alliance for Justice began campaigning and lobbying for Joe Biden to fill judicial vacancies with liberal judges. Its goal was to take advantage of the Democratic control of the Senate by appointing as many liberal judges as possible while also making up for lost opportunities to do so during President Barack Obama’s presidency. 11

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign

Also see Alliance for Justice Action Campaign (Nonprofit)

The Alliance for Justice Action Campaign is the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of the Alliance for Justice responsible for lobbying Congress. In 2017, it spent $13,311 on federal lobbying.12

Building the Bench

Building the Bench is a project of Alliance for Justice the was launched in early 2019. 13

Building the Bench is a center-left alternative to the conservative Federalist Society. The group works to develop “a professionally and demographically diverse pool of judicial candidates for the next President to consider.” 14 The project is designed to function as a ready-made magazine of judicial nominees to help a future Democratic president make a rapid barrage of judicial nominations after assuming office. The goal of this project is to fill as many judicial seats as possible with left-leaning judges after the Trump administration leaves office.

The president of the right-leaning Judicial Crisis Network, Carrie Severino, criticized Building the Bench in June of 2019 for its lack of transparency in not disclosing its list of potential nominees. 15 Severino felt that that Build the Bench ought to disclose its list of nominees as openly as the Donald Trump campaign did when it released a list of candidates before the 2016 election. 16

The project is led by a board of 31 advisors including Barbara Arnwine, founder of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Transformative Justice Coalition, and Alice O’Brien, general counsel for the National Education Association. 17

Another important board member is Herman Schwartz, author of Right Wing Justice: The Conservative Campaign to Take Over the Courts, founder of the ACLU National Prison Project, member of the executive committee of the board of the Open Society Institute Justice Initiative, and former chief counsel for the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee. 18

Also on the board is Mark Tushnet, a left-wing Harvard Law School professor, and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. 19 Tushnet has written that his decisions, if he were a judge, would be explicitly political, even going so far as to say that he would make his decisions based on which result would be “likely to advance the cause of socialism”. 20

Political Activism

Judicial Confirmations

Alliance for Justice released a report opposing the confirmation of Neomi Rao, President Trump’s nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The report claimed that Rao would be dangerous to the wellbeing of the country should she be confirmed by the Senate. The report, based on articles from left-wing sources like Mother Jones and BuzzFeed accused Rao of racism and sexism. The report included a fact sheet and multiple statements regarding Rao’s deregulatory political views and her writing for journals in college. 21

Opposing Amy Coney Barrett

In October 2020, Alliance for Justice partnered with Lawyers for Good Government to collect signatures from thousands of lawyers opposing the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The groups submitted the signatures to the Senate and liberal media relations firm Unbendable Media sent the letter to reporters to boast about the stunt. On closer inspection, however, it was discovered that the letter included over 100 pages of duplicate names, and possibly a signature from a deceased person. 22

Ad Campaign calling for Resignation of Justice Clarence Thomas

In May 2023, Alliance for Justice and the Alliance for Justice Action Campaign (AFJAC) launched a $400,000 media campaign with ads calling for the resignation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The ad cites ProPublica and Slate reports that allege Thomas had previously accepted “gifts” from billionaire Harlan Crow that include, “luxury vacations, real estate deals and free tuition for a relative.” 23 The media campaign includes digital ads released to news outlets including CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. A press release by AFJ and AFJAC president Rakim H.D Brooks stated, “No one should turn a blind eye to that level of corruption, particularly those sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” 24


Nan Aron, a former American Civil Liberties Union attorney, founded and heads the AFJ.

Abby Levine is the current director of the Bolder Advocacy Project. Levine was the Public Policy Analyst for the National Council of Nonprofit Associations. 25


In 2015, AFJ took in $4 million and spent $4.5 million. It had $4.3 million in net assets. The Bolder Advocacy work was the most expensive program area, costing $2.2 million. The Judicial Selection Project expended $1.2 million.26

The Alliance for Justice has received money from numerous left-of-center foundations and labor unions. The Ford Foundation has given the organization $3.36 million, the Atlantic Foundation has given it $2.45 million, and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations has given it $1.6 million. 27


  1. “Alliance for Justice”. 2017. Activist Facts. Accessed November 27 2017.
  2. Data compiled by subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Queries conducted December 20, 2017.
  3. “Nan Aron – Alliance for Justice”. 2017. Alliance for Justice. Accessed November 27 2017.
  4. “Alliance for Justice “. 2017. Activist Facts. Accessed November 27 2017.
  5. “Alliance for Justice”. 2017. Activist Facts. Accessed November 27 2017.
  6. “How Robert Bork Helped Make Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court Confirmation Possible”. 2017. Time. Accessed November 29 2017.
  7. “Her Idea Of Justice: Absolutely Not Alito”. 2017. Washingtonpost.Com. Accessed November 29 2017.
  8. “Member Organizations – Alliance for Justice”. 2017. Alliance for Justice. Accessed December 12 2017.
  9. “Alliance for Justice”. 2017. Activist Facts. Accessed December 12 2017.
  10. “Alliance for Justice”. 2017. Activist Facts. Accessed December 12 2017.
  11. Tillman, Zoe. “Trump Filled The Courts With Conservative Judges. It Won’t Be As Easy For Biden To Do The Same With Liberal Ones.” BuzzFeed News. BuzzFeed News, December 18, 2020.
  12. Politics, The. 2017. “Lobbying Spending Database – Alliance for Justice, 2017 | Opensecrets”. Opensecrets.Org. Accessed December 12 2017.
  13. “Building the Bench.” Alliance for Justice. Accessed June 11, 2019.
  14. “Building the Bench Advisory Council.” Alliance for Justice. Accessed June 11, 2019.
  15. Mikelionis, Lukas. “Liberal Dark Money Groups Mull Secret Progressive Judge List to Counteract Trump.” Fox News. June 11, 2019. Accessed June 11, 2019.
  16. Mikelionis, Lukas. “Liberal Dark Money Groups Mull Secret Progressive Judge List to Counteract Trump.” Fox News. June 11, 2019. Accessed June 11, 2019.
  17. “Building the Bench Advisory Council.” Alliance for Justice. Accessed June 11, 2019.
  18. “Faculty.” American University Washington College of Law. Accessed June 11, 2019.
  19. “Mark V. Tushnet.” Mark V. Tushnet. Accessed June 11, 2019.
  20. Tushnet, Mark. “The Dilemmas of Liberal Constitutionalism.” Ohio State Law Journal 42, no. 1 (1981): 411-26. Accessed June 11, 2019.
  21. “Neomi Rao Background Report.” Alliance for Justice. Accessed March 11, 2019.
  22. Lovelace, Ryan. “Duplicate Names among ‘Thousands’ Signing Liberal Group’s Anti-Barrett Open Letter.” The Washington Times. The Washington Times, October 10, 2020.
  23. Skinner, Paige. “New Ad Calls On Justice Clarence Thomas To Resign For Accepting Billionaire’s Gifts.” Huffington Post, May 30, 2023.
  24. Skinner, Paige. “New Ad Calls On Justice Clarence Thomas To Resign For Accepting Billionaire’s Gifts.” Huffington Post, May 30, 2023.
  25. “Abby Levine – Alliance for Justice”. 2017. Alliance for Justice. Accessed December 12 2017.
  26. Alliance for Justice, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2015. Accessed December 12 2017.
  27. “Alliance for Justice”. 2017. Activist Facts. Accessed December 12 2017.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 1974

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form 990 $5,142,561 $5,477,838 $13,824,890 $1,933,277 N $4,587,236 $223,502 $173,541 $291,016
    2019 Dec Form 990 $8,404,547 $5,560,037 $13,827,097 $1,945,883 N $7,771,021 $339,319 $112,526 $256,122 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $5,618,274 $5,699,201 $10,514,876 $2,196,011 N $5,269,234 $206,004 $79,868 $249,411 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $6,078,620 $5,029,169 $9,351,053 $846,399 N $5,298,084 $463,290 $78,613 $254,832 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $7,325,400 $4,316,897 $8,145,098 $864,667 N $7,072,413 $220,835 $33,634 $256,741 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $4,027,732 $4,501,534 $5,327,676 $965,281 N $3,418,052 $403,213 $40,302 $219,059 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $3,668,517 $4,450,942 $6,135,139 $1,166,030 N $3,295,379 $216,052 $28,288 $397,856 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $5,084,034 $4,264,390 $6,526,653 $900,844 N $4,851,550 $92,494 $22,021 $391,170 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $3,909,980 $4,109,755 $5,418,437 $733,000 N $3,747,507 $143,107 $62,223 $339,884 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $3,657,461 $3,785,279 $5,454,143 $716,803 N $3,495,271 $122,636 $83,375 $416,126 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Alliance for Justice (AFJ)

    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-1207