Executive Director, Demand Justice
Industry: Political communications
Key previous position: National press secretary, Hillary Clinton campaign
Notable fact: Covered sports for The Harvard Crimson
Brian Fallon’s boss lost the last presidential election, prompting the nomination and confirmation of judges who will decide federal court rulings for decades. Now he’s dedicated to reversing that effort.
Fallon, who served as Hillary Clinton’s press secretary in the presidential campaign, founded Demand Justice last year to stop the confirmation of President Trump’s nominees to lifelong judgeships.
But pushing back against the conservative shift of the judiciary, Fallon argues, requires not just opposition to Trump’s nominees. It also involves the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and structural reform that includes growing the sizes of federal courts and instituting de facto term limits on judges.
“Our goal in the immediate term is to correct for the apathy and the complacency that you saw among progressives when it comes to the Court and judges in 2016,” Fallon said.
The group is also setting litmus tests for the next Supreme Court nominee, culminating last month in a short list of prospective members of the high court including judges, Democratic lawmakers, professors, leaders of civil-rights organizations—and nobody who made partner at a corporate law firm. The effect, Fallon hopes, incentivizes young lawyers interested in wearing a robe to cut their teeth in public-interest advocacy.
“We should be able to move people through [the Senate] that unabashedly made a career of fighting for progressive values,” he said.
Progressive activism against Republican presidents’ most unqualified or ideological court picks isn’t new. But Fallon, a former spokesman for Sen. Chuck Schumer, has also made antagonization of his party’s most moderate members running for president or reelection a cornerstone of his strategy.
“He has got a lot of fans within the Senate Democratic caucus, but he’s also picked up a whole bunch of enemies,” said Jim Manley, who overlapped with Fallon when both worked for members of Senate Democratic leadership. “And he understands that, and he doesn’t care.”
Fallon admits there is little consensus for dramatic judicial reform. But he hopes Kavanaugh’s confirmation and the upcoming Supreme Court term, filled with critical issues for the Democratic electorate, will build grassroots support for change ahead of the 2020 elections for president and the Senate. “Unfortunately, the worse things get in the real world, the easier my job gets,” he said.
—Zach C. Cohen