Real Justice Is ...

A report on access to justice
by Earthjustice

What’s at stake

The American people’s ability to win real justice through the courts is under attack.

At the urging of wealthy corporations and powerful special interests, members of Congress and the Trump administration aim to limit access to the federal justice system. These efforts threaten individuals’ ability to protect civil rights and liberties, defend consumer and environmental protections, and advance public health and safety.

It will take a broad partnership to defend the right of people in this country to go to court. We need a united front of organizations and individuals, standing together in opposition to this assault on a vital pillar of our democracy. This fight is not a partisan one.

Patrice Simms, Vice President of Litigation at Earthjustice, explains attacks on real justice — and how we can defend our access to the courts.

The Report

This report, “Fighting for Real Justice,” examines actions of the Trump administration and Congress that threaten people’s ability to have their day in court. These dangerous policies, being pursued at the behest of powerful corporate and ideological interests, seek to diminish the role of the courts in securing important public protections for individuals, workers, families, communities, and the environment, with particularly profound implications for already marginalized groups.

This new report follows a report issued in 2018, prepared by Earthjustice, with invaluable contributions from the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Citizen, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

The intensity and frequency of these anti-justice attacks has brought together public interest organizations to sound the alarm. Earthjustice stands united with allies from other sectors and movements against any attempts to block the courthouse doors, because every person in America deserves access to justice.

The scales of justice.

I. Threat to Real Justice: Making Courts Off-Limits

Judicial review allows the public to hold the government accountable for abuse of power or failing to create or enforce rules that put laws into effect. Limiting judicial revew shields agencies, industries, and even Congress itself, from the courts’ oversight.

II. Threat to Real Justice: Stripping Americans of Their Individual Right To Sue

Forced arbitration stacks the deck against consumers. Restricting class action lawsuits prevents individuals from joining together to seek redress for unlawful conduct.

III. Threat to Real Justice: Making It Too Risky and Too Expensive to Sue

Where individuals have a legal right to bring a case in court, they also need the courts to be accessible on a practical level. The more expensive it is to go to court, the less accessible the courts become in reality.

IV. Threat to Real Justice: Limiting Judicial Discretion

Interference with judges’ discretion to administer justice and limitations on the power of courts to effectively redress injuries are threatening real justice through the courts.

V. Threat to Real Justice: Blocking Timely and Meaningful Case Settlements

Undermining the government’s ability to reach timely and meaningful case settlements that bring critical relief to people in need are among the tactics that threaten real justice through the courts.

Get Involved

Share this report and its important message with your elected officials. Ask them to oppose any legislation that undermines our access to the courts. We must speak up to ensure this cornerstone of democracy remains open to everyone.

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wielding the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, preserve magnificent places and wildlife, advance clean energy and combat climate change.
Because the earth needs a good lawyer.