While February may be the shortest month, it certainly doesn't mean we get any less done. In the last few weeks, Public Justice has been hard at work, forging new paths that help seek justice for all, while calling out existing policies that work against us, and fighting attempts to stifle the voices of those whom we advocate for.

Below are some of our top highlights of this month:
We joined our allies in calling on Members of Congress to co-sponsor the FAIR Act. We live tweeted a House Judiciary Committee hearing on this critical legislation, raising the voices of those who are advocating for its passage, which would help put an end to forced arbitration clauses. Read more about our recent work to end forced arbitration below!
We highlighted the important work of our Debtors' Prison Project in a blog post from our Debtors' Prison Project Skadden Fellow John He. John discusses our amicus brief in a case that seeks justice for a 60-year old homeless man in Seattle, who was charged $500 for a minor parking infraction. Learn more about the case, why the fine is unconstitutional under the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment, and why enforcing that clause is a key part of DPP's advocacy.
As part of our longstanding efforts to preserve Access to Justice by promoting and protecting the class action device, we celebrated a significant victory in early February: the legal team in Cherry v. Dometic Corp. won their challenge to the Eleventh Circuit's ascertainability standard. Read about the impact of this decision on class actions by visiting our case page on Cherry.
We stood up for rural communities and environmental justice groups calling for a better food system and stronger environmental regulations by posing our own questions to both Tom Vilsack, nominee for USDA Secretary, and Michael Regan, nominee for EPA Administrator, during each of their nomination hearings. Americans deserve a better food system, as well as an environmental agency that regulates industrial agriculture, and that starts with leaders committed to environmental and racial justice.
As part of the legal team representing workers at Amazon's JFK8 facility on Staten Island and their families in the Palmer v. Amazon case, we applauded New York Attorney General Letitia James's recent filing of a lawsuit against Amazon over a number of its policies and actions during the pandemic: "Attorney General James’s decision to enforce New York State law through an action against Amazon in the civil justice system is consistent with the facts brought forward by the brave workers behind the Palmer v. Amazon case: over the course of the pandemic, Amazon has illegally placed its hunger for extraordinary profits over the health and safety of its workers." Read the full statement on our Press Releases page.
Finally, as this month comes to a close, we hope you will consider submitting a nomination for the 2021 Trial Lawyer of the Year Award! Each year, this prestigious award showcases the best of our profession and highlights the remarkable impact lawyers have on clients, communities, and our country. The deadline to submit a nomination is March 1 at 5:00 pm ET. Learn more and make a nomination here.
Despite a nearly impossible-to-follow news cycle, Public Justice staff have continued to garner press coverage for their vibrant case docket and other legal advocacy. Here are just a few recent highlights:
On February 12, our Executive Director Paul Bland appeared on an episode of Mike Papantonio's America's Lawyer to discuss three upcoming Supreme Court cases, the outcome of which could seriously hinder peoples’ ability to use class actions to curb social and economic injustice. Click here to watch the episode, and learn more about these cases involving TransUnion, the NCAA, and Goldman Sachs.
In May 2016, Public Justice filed a lawsuit against USDA on behalf of independent rancher group R-CALF USA, alleging that the Beef Checkoff tax is being unconstitutionally used to promote international beef, to the detriment of U.S. beef products and producers. On Feb. 12, 2021, a U.S. district court in Montana granted R-CALF USA's motion for over $150,000 in legal fees and costs the group incurred during the case that helped prevent USDA from unconstitutionally compelling cattle producers to fund the private speech of the Montana Beef Council.

Public Justice Food Project Associate Attorney Kellan Smith was quoted on the significance of this decision by the Sidney Herald: "This is a significant ruling for the First Amendment and for independent American ranchers because it holds that the checkoff program had been unconstitutionally administered since 2005 [...] It is significant for everyone because the substantial public cost of this litigation is a result of the USDA's decision to repeatedly defend unconstitutional policies benefitting multinational beef corporations on the taxpayer's dime."
You can always find more news stories mentioning Public Justice on the In The News page on the Public Justice website.
Public Justice is proud to support the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act (H.R. 1374), which was reintroduced by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) this month. The FAIR Act would ban forced arbitration clauses, giving people an opportunity to choose whether or not they'd like to pursue a dispute outside of the courts rather than being forced to work things out on a corporation's terms. Existing almost everywhere, forced arbitration has been used to protect companies from a wide variety of complaints, including sexual assault, wage theft, and racial discrimination, making it a way for companies to evade accountability and ensure these powerful corporations come out on top.

Public Justice has been working on fighting forced arbitration for a long time, and we're asking you to join us and call on Congress to pass the FAIR Act.

On Thursday, February 12, we live tweeted a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the FAIR Act, uplifting our allies' voices, including our Board Member Myriam Gilles, who served as a witness during the hearing. Myriam spoke about the lie upon which forced arbitration is built: "Forced arbitration is tucked into the fine print. To call that consent, that's what's laughable. It's a convenient legal fiction for big businesses. When it harms consumers and employees, we need to take a step back and realize this is no longer consent."
Image of Gilles via Cardozo Law
Our Executive Director Paul Bland also released a statement on why Congress must pass the FAIR Act, which was featured in a recent article from Legal Reader: "The reintroduction of this bill is urgent in this moment: during a pandemic in which countless employers are treating essential workers as sacrificial, and nursing home negligence has led to massive infection, the ability of ordinary people to hold corporations accountable through the civil justice system is a life or death issue. An Administration and Congress that have stated their aim to build back better and fairer from the pandemic must end forced arbitration." The full statement can be found here.

A full livestream of the hearing can be viewed here. To learn more about our work against forced arbitration, visit two of our recent blog posts from Cartwright-Baron Senior Attorney Karla Gilbride, which includes our history in fighting forced arbitration, and the shortcomings of a report from the Institute for Legal Reform claiming that arbitration is actually better for workers than going to court.

How can you support passing the FAIR Act? Call your representative and ask them to be a co-sponsor of the FAIR Act if they are not one yet, and thank them if they already are. Now is the time to urge your Members of Congress to pass this important legislation and let them know it's a phenomenal way to support workers' and consumers' right to justice.
Join Public Justice Attorneys Leslie Brueckner and Ellen Noble for a special Zoom webinar for Public Justice members and Women En Mass supporters on Wednesday, March 17 at 2 PM EST.

The webinar titled "Letting the Sunshine In: Fighting Unnecessary Secrecy in Mass Torts", will discuss the problem of secrecy in mass torts, and how overbroad protective orders, secret settlements, and sealed court records harm victims and threaten public safety.

Learn more here and RSVP to Sue Gombert at sgombert@publicjustice.net for Zoom webinar information.
Thank you to everyone who attended our first-ever virtual Presidents’ Party co-hosted with AAJ’s Minority and LGBT Caucuses on February 9!

Please click here to see a list of the generous sponsors who made this evening possible. 
Public Justice’s Students’ Civil Rights Project uses litigation and advocacy to combat harassment and other forms of discrimination so that all students can learn and thrive in school.

Every student must be able to access education in a learning environment that is free from discrimination, including harassment and violence. No student should be denied learning opportunities because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other part of who they are. And no student should fear going to school because they are the target of discrimination, bullying, or other abuse.

Learn more about SCRP at the Project’s webpage, which includes information on areas of work within the Project (Anti-Bullying Campaign, Gender & Sexual Violence, and more); resources for parents, students, and advocates; and more. Help us protect, inform, and empower students and their families by donating today.
Public Justice welcomes this month's new members - your unwavering commitment to our mission to combat injustice helps us reach our goals.

Questions? Contact us at memberservices@publicjustice.net.