Non-profit

Justice at Stake

Website:

www.justiceatstake.org

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

20-4098898

DUNS Number:

10-175-8444

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $2,042,794
Expenses: $2,490,865
Assets: $1,143,511

Formation:

2000

Justice at Stake is an advocacy group promoting restrictions on judicial selection for state courts. The organization supports indirect selection of state judges by panels stacked by state bar associations and opposes judicial elections and federal-style judicial appointment processes.[1]

The organization is suspected to have a liberal bent, and it has received financial support from left-wing foundations including ones associated with billionaire financier George Soros.[2] The group has opposed Supreme Court jurisprudence allowing more organizations to exercise election-related free speech, in alignment with the liberal agenda.[3] Senior staff at Justice at Stake have liberal records, having worked for the Clinton administration, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Brennan Center for Justice, among other liberal groups.

JAS believes it is a counterweight to special interest groups who are, “spending millions to influence decisions and elect judges to serve their narrow interest.”[4] Critics claim that the “merit selection” or “Missouri Plan” advocated by Justice at Stake empowers the trial bar and more progressive special interests.[5]

Initiatives

The group focuses on judicial elections and the influence of money in races for court seats nationwide. JAS publishes periodic reports on campaign contributions to judicial candidates nationwide.[6]

The group runs public relations activities on behalf of Justice at Stake’s agenda. Scott Greytak, senior policy counsel for JAS, used the popularity of “Making of a Murderer” to urge policymakers and the public to move away from a judicial system that elects judges.[7]

The group also takes an active role in advocacy on ballot measures that increase democratic accountability in state court systems. Justice at Stake spent $27,000 backing a Nevada measure to replace nonpartisan election of judges with a panel selection process.[8]

A Justice at Stake board member, Robert S. Peck, was lead counsel for liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who unsuccessfully challenged a ballot measure that shifted the Chief Justice position from the longest-serving justice to the justice chosen by a majority of the Court.[9] Abrahamson had been Chief Justice, but the Court voted to elevate conservative Justice Patience Roggensack after the ballot measure.[10]

Funding

JAS reported just more than $1.7 million in revenue in 2014, and spent more than $2.65 million.[11] The group reported more than $1.4 million in revenue for 2013, and spent more than $2.7 million that year.[12]

Justice at Stake partially discloses its contributors. Since its inception in 2000, the following entities have donated to JAS, according to the organization:[13]

Justice at Stake receives some contributions from donor-advised funds, including the Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund.[14] Donor-advised funds can be used by contributors to mask their involvement in causes.

People

Attorney Susan Liss serves at the JAS executive director, a post she took in 2016.[15] She boasts a long resume as a staffer to notable Democrats. She served as the director of federal-state relations for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, as chief of staff to Second Lady Tipper Gore, and as counsel to Vice President Al Gore.  She also worked for progressive legal policy shop the Brennan Center.[16] She reportedly boasts close ties to former Secretary of State John Kerry.[1]

Prior to Liss, Liz Seaton acted as interim executive director, and Seaton remains a senior adviser to Justice at Stake. She previously worked for numerous LGBT rights groups including the Human Rights Campaign and liberal legal policy advocacy group American Constitution Society.[17]

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor serves as the group’s honorary chair. She had previously served as spokesperson on a progressive-backed campaign in Nevada for the merit selection program and was defended by Justice at Stake when opponents of the measure alleged her involvement violated judicial conduct guidelines.[18]

References

  1. Simon, Ammon. “Re: Governor Brownback’s Stellar Judicial Appointment.” National Review. August 30, 2013. Accessed April 04, 2017. http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/357243/re-governor-brownbacks-stellar-judicial-appointment-ammon-simon
  2. Lott, Maxim. “Billionaire George Soros Trying To Stack the Courts, Critics Say.” Fox News. June 27, 2011. Accessed March 21, 2017. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/06/27/critics-say-soros-trying-to-stack-courts.html
  3. “U.S Supreme Court & Other Litigation.” Justice at Stake. Accessed April 04, 2017. http://www.justiceatstake.org/about/us-supreme-court-and-litigation/
  4. “Justice at Stake’s Mission – JAS,” Justice at Stake, accessed November 22, 2016, http://www.justiceatstake.org/about/index.cfm.
  5. Marx, Gary. “2010 State Court Election Roundup.” National Review. November 04, 2010. Accessed April 04, 2017. http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/252544/2010-state-court-election-roundup-gary-marx
  6. “The New Politics of Judicial Elections, Bankrolling the Bench,” The New Politics of Judicial Elections, 2016, accessed November 22, 2016, http://newpoliticsreport.org/
  7. Greytack, Scott. ‘Making a murderer’ Ignores Impact of Judicial Elections,” Wisconsin State Journal, January 25, 2016, accessed November 22, 2016, http://host.madison.com/wsj/opinion/column/making-a-murderer-ignores-impact-of-judicial-elections–/article_3c711a54-3a7d-58ec-81ae-3617f22be417.html.
  8. National Institute on Money in State Politics. “JUSTICE AT STAKE.” Follow The Money. Accessed April 05, 2017. https://www.followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=9717913
  9. “The Monarch of Madison.” The Wall Street Journal. April 09, 2015. Accessed April 05, 2017. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-monarch-of-madison-1428621630
  10. Marley, Patrick. “Patience Roggensack to stay chief justice for now, after judge rules.” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. May 15, 2015. Accessed April 5, 2017. http://archive.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/patience-roggensack-to-stay-chief-justice-for-now-after-judge-rules-b99501052z1-303908631.html
  11. Justice at Stake, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014 http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/204/098/2014-204098898-0c29f37e-9.pdf
  12. Justice at Stake, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014 http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/204/098/2014-204098898-0c29f37e-9.pdf
  13. “Justice at Stake Funders.” Justice at Stake. Accessed April 05, 2017. http://www.justiceatstake.org/about/justice-at-stake-funders/
  14. Data compiled by FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Accessed April 5, 2017.
  15. “Susan Liss, Executive Director – JAS,” Justice at Stake, accessed November 22, 2016, http://www.justiceatstake.org/about/jas_staff/susan-liss-executive-director/
  16. “Susan M. Liss to Join Justice at Stake as Executive Director – JAS,” Justice at Stake, accessed November 22, 2016, http://www.justiceatstake.org/newsroom/press-releases-16824/?susan_m_liss_to_join_justice_at_stake_as_executive_director&show=news&newsID=21242
  17. “Liz Seaton, Senior Advisor.” Justice at Stake. Accessed April 04, 2017. http://www.justiceatstake.org/about/jas_staff/liz-seaton-deputy-executive-director/
  18. Whelan, Ed. “Misplaying the Victim Card on Behalf of O’Connor.” National Review. November 01, 2010. Accessed April 05, 2017. http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/251791/misplaying-victim-card-behalf-oconnor-ed-whelan
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 2006

  • 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
    2015 Dec Form 990 $2,042,794 $2,490,865 $1,143,511 $69,659 N $1,953,265 $0 $252 $150,238 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $1,706,223 $2,565,601 $1,612,984 $91,061 N $1,691,312 $0 $14,911 $680,787
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,446,673 $2,731,491 $2,458,078 $76,777 N $1,440,230 $0 $6,443 $184,850 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $2,945,681 $1,878,615 $3,793,546 $127,427 N $2,944,913 $0 $768 $183,070 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $2,531,571 $1,382,149 $2,638,989 $39,936 N $2,529,825 $0 $1,746 $258,983 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $1,863,815 $1,446,293 $1,508,947 $59,316 N $1,862,120 $0 $1,695 $150,346 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Justice at Stake

    1220 19TH ST NW STE 320
    WASHINGTON, DC 20036-2462