2020 Sundance Film Festival – World Premiere
2020 AFI DOCS
2019 / 96 minutes / USA
DIRECTED BY ELYSE STEINBERG, JOSH KRIEGMAN, ELI DESPRES
Only days after the 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump, furious Americans gathered at airports across the country in protest of the Muslim ban. But it was the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union, waging the fight in federal court, that turned the tide, staying the executive order on grounds of unconstitutionality. The ACLU has never granted access to its offices, even as its battles—on the fronts of abortion rights, immigration rights, LGBT rights and voting rights—have become more timely and momentous than ever.
With THE FIGHT, access has finally been granted to the filmmaking team of Eli B. Despres, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, makers of 2016’s award-winning Weiner. Rousing, inspiring and slyly humorous, their latest documentary follows four seismically important cases and a handful of magnetic attorneys. These lawyers may not know how to charge a cell phone or operate a stand-up desk but have persuaded Supreme Court Justices, beating back serious encroachments upon our freedoms. An antidote to endless news cycles filled with tweet tantrums, THE FIGHT inspires with the story of front-line warriors in the battle for the American soul.
THE ACLU LAWYERS
Brigitte Amiri is a deputy director at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. She is currently litigating numerous cases, including leading the Jane Doe case, challenging the Trump administration’s ban on abortion for unaccompanied immigrant minors. She also represents the last abortion clinic in Kentucky, and is lead counsel in a challenge to Kentucky’s six-week abortion ban and another challenge against the state’s attempts to close the clinic’s doors. Ms. Amiri also leads the Project’s efforts to ensure that religious objections are not used to discriminate against or harm people seeking access to reproductive health care.
Joshua Block is a senior staff attorney with the National ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & HIV Projects. Together with Chase Strangio, he is lead counsel in Stone v. Trump, the ACLU’s challenge to President Trump’s attempt to ban transgender people from serving in the military. For ten years at the ACLU, Josh has litigated ground- breaking cases on employment discrimination, free speech and censorship, discrimination against transgender students, access to healthcare for transgender people, and marriage equality, including Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, Obergefell v Hodges, and United States v. Windsor. In 2012 he was named one of the “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40′′ by the LGBT Bar Association.
Lee Gelernt is the deputy director of the ACLU’s national Immigrants’ Rights Project and director of the project’s Access to the Court’s Program. He has argued many of the highest profile challenges to the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, including its family separation practice. He is widely considered one of the nation’s leading public interest lawyers and has been recognized as one of the top 500 lawyers in the country in any field. Lee has argued dozens of groundbreaking cases throughout the country, including in the U.S. Supreme Court, where he will again be arguing in March, on behalf of asylum seekers.
Dale Ho is the director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project and supervises the ACLU’s voting rights litigation. His cases have included: Department of Commerce v. New York (challenging the inclusion of a citizenship question on the Census, which he argued in the U.S. Supreme Court); Fish v. Kobach (challenging documentation requirements for voter registration in Kansas); and League of Women Voters of NC v. North Carolina (challenging cutbacks to early voting and the elimination of same-day registration in North Carolina). Dale is the recipient of the 2019 National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) President’s Award. In 2017, Dale was named one of the best Asian American Lawyers under 40 by NAPABA.
Chase Strangio is the deputy director for Transgender Justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project and a nationally recognized expert on trans rights. He is counsel in the ACLU’s challenge to North Carolina’s notorious anti-trans law, HB2, Carcaño, et al. v. Cooper, et al, the ACLU’s challenge to Trump’s trans military ban, Stone v. Trump, and the case of Aimee Stephens, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, which is pending before the Supreme Court. He was counsel to whistleblower Chelsea Manning in her lawsuit against the Department of Defense for discriminatory denial of health treatment while in custody and worked with the team defending the rights of transgender student, Gavin Grimm, before the Supreme Court. He also appears regularly in the media and lobbies in state legislatures around the country on issues impacting trans and nonbinary people.