In modern America’s contentious political climate, we often hear about “activist judges” writing laws from the bench. The Supreme Court, consisting of nine judges who are appointed by the President and Congress for life, may seem far removed from the populist democracy created by the founders, and while voters appear to have very little say in how the Supreme Court decides cases, David Cole’s book Engines of Liberty: the Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law shows that community members have great influence over Constitutional law, even before an stately body such as the Supreme Court.
Following the release of a report that showed how dangerous and mismanaged private prisons are, the Department of Justice announced that the Bureau of Prisons would stop using them for federal prisoners. This was a big step in the right direction and celebrated by advocates who have diligently worked against prison privatization.
Let’s be honest. The election of Donald Trump as president felt like a kick in the gut to many supporters of the ACLU of Ohio. The size of Trump’s victory in the Buckeye State—eight percentage points—was especially disheartening for those who defend the rights of people whom our next president attacked: people of color, women, immigrants, people with disabilities, and others.