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AFT’s Weingarten speaks at launch event of new progressive group 

American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten participated in the debut event for a new progressive organization, United For Democracy (UFD).  

Weingarten said, during the livestreamed launch event on June 14, “Part of what we must do is educate the American people about the problems in our Supreme Court. We must do this work to show people we have the power to stand up to these abuses.” Weingarten’s allegations came in the context of discussing the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.  

Other speakers at the event made similarly partisan claims about the U.S. Supreme Court, such as Alliance for Justice President Rahim Brooks, who said, “The Supreme Court is only further going to erode our rights, our democracy, and the quality of our lives and our loved ones.” 

According to its website, UFD advocates for congressional action for the purpose of holding the U.S. Supreme Court accountable for recent judicial decisions, although it does not explicitly state how the organization plans to hold the Court’s nine justices accountable. It says, “We believe Congress must act to rein in the extreme Supreme Court and put power back in the hands of citizens, not a few unaccountable elites.” The website adds the statement, “The extremist justices and those who prop them up don’t want us to have a voice – but our institutions answer to the people. It’s time to reclaim that power.” 

While the U.S. Supreme Court operates independently of the other two branches of U.S. government, UFD’s proposed efforts would circumvent existing checks-and-balances which are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.  

Progressive pushback against the highest court in the country began when three justices were appointed to the Court by former President Donald Trump, which gave conservative justices a 6-3 majority by September 2020. Progressive groups and politicians railed against the new Court majority, such as Demand Justice’s proposal to “balance” the Court by adding four justices to neutralize the current Court’s makeup and several Democratic senators claiming, “All signs point toward the Court continuing its assault on the Constitution and the American people going forward.” 

Both AFT and the National Education Association (NEA) were listed as key partners on UFD’s website, along with SEIU, League of Conservation Voters, and the Center for Popular Democracy. It begs the question why unions, who should be focused on serving their members, are lining up alongside clearly political organizations to support–even headline–partisan political causes. 

UFD’s funding sources and its official registration status are not available online. However, several of its partner groups are well-known recipients of funding from progressive, dark-money organizations such as the Sixteen Thirty Fund.  

The Sixteen Thirty Fund received $91 million in 2020 from another progressive group called Arabella Advisors, which pulled in $1.6 billion in funding in 2020. Arabella Advisors, through the Sixteen Thirty Fund, spent $44 million in the 2020 elections in addition to funding progressive news network States Newsroom. AFFT previously reported that Arabella Advisors also funded a unionization effort in Congress through the work of an organization called Demand Progress Education Fund. 

Spencer Irvine

Spencer Irvine is Senior Writer & Researcher at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Spencer previously worked in state government, in communications for a non-profit advocacy organization, and held various administrative and communications roles at a media analysis organization. He has a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University. He lives in Arizona with his wife, is an avid history buff and enjoys touring historic sites.