Research Fellow: Preventing Hard Right Capture of the Courts

The importance and current vulnerability of our judiciary as guarantor of constitutional rights is underscored by the pursuit of robust anti-Black, -immigrant, -women, -Muslim, -LGBTQ, -wage earner, and related policies by the Executive branch. Despite self-evident systemic failures to deliver equal justice to marginalized and criminalized communities, for the moment our state and federal courts continue to offer some critical checks against executive branch excess. Recent federal court rulings have blocked voter disenfranchisement schemes in some states, as well as the administration’s bans on Muslim entry and transgender military service. However, this administration and its allies are moving aggressively to pack the courts with judges aligned with their agendas and to otherwise erode state and federal judiciaries as avenues for the pursuit of equal justice. A judiciary subservient to—or aligned with—the goals of this administration would accelerate social and economic inequality and risk a descent into autocracy. Even as we continue to challenge our court system’s role in maintaining structural inequality, social justice movements must not allow the Hard Right to capture the courts.

To better inform social justice change makers who rely on PRA’s assessment of threats from the Right Wing—including threats associated with nationalism and authoritarianism—we are announcing a new Research Fellow position focused on the courts. As a research partner to social justice advocates working in related fields, PRA will inform strategic assessment and promote interventions that strengthen the role of courts as guarantors of justice and checks against autocracy.

Political Research Associates (PRA), a progressive think tank, is a leading source for strategic analysis of right-wing social and political movements. For thirty-five years we have supported change makers who are building a more just and inclusive democratic society on such issues as race and immigration, gender and reproductive autonomy, the economy, and human sexuality. We combine investigative journalism with academic rigor and deep expertise on key right-wing movements and players, including Christian Right/dominionists, economic libertarians, White nationalists, and right-wing “Patriot” paramilitary groups.  Our work is informed by these principles and builds upon a large body of PRA research.

The Research Fellow’s key responsibilities include:

  • Develop expertise re: Hard Right’s strategies for capturing the courts & the potential implications/scenarios for U.S. democracy, as well as familiarity with international case studies re: the judiciary and authoritarianism;
  • Produce a collection of educational resources for social justice groups re: the role of courts in resisting or facilitating autocracy/authoritarianism, and practical options for shoring up the courts as a critical firewall against those threats;
  • Develop relationships with (and leverage expertise and knowledge from) strategic partners in the progressive legal, fair courts, racial justice, decarceration, and related fields;
  • Manage an advisory group whose role is to provide strategic direction and feedback;
  • Produce strategy recommendations for advocacy and organizing partners; and
  • Represent PRA at coalition meetings & present at conferences and events, as needed.

Qualifications: Commitment to racial and gender justice and the broader vision and mission of PRA; nuanced understanding of the current political moment and the Right’s threat to democracy and pluralism; knowledge and critical analysis of the U.S. judicial system; demonstrated expertise in public policy analysis and/or opposition research; excellent writing and editing skills; strong verbal communication skills; demonstrated efficacy managing projects and deadlines; critical and creative thinking; familiarity with social justice movements and passion for social justice; ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

This is a part-time paid position for one year (with possible extension).  Physical proximity to PRA offices in Somerville is NOT a requirement. PRA is a racial justice and equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Political Research Associates is committed to hiring someone with the right mix of research skills, passion for racial and criminal justice, and potential to grow with us. We strongly encourage people from communities most negatively affected by right-wing ideologies & campaigns to apply, particularly: people of color; immigrants; women and feminine-identified people; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people.

To apply please send a cover letter, resume, a writing sample, and references to Position open until filled.