My Query Letter

My query about my work The ACLU’s First 100 Years at the U.S. Supreme Court:

I am seeking a publisher, marketer and/or distributor to represent The ACLU’s First 100 Years at the U.S. Supreme Court.

A hundred years is a long run for any organization (according to Harvard Business Review, the average lifespan of a U.S. S&P 500 company is 15 years) and as the ACLU reaches its centennial anniversary, millions of Americans know the letters ACLU – American Civil Liberties Union – but few could say what the Union is, what it does or how it does what it does. Some consider the ACLU a fringe organization, or a criminals’ lobby, or “some liberal group.” Others say the ACLU is the most important NGO protecting American democracy. 

The centennial of the ACLU is a popular subject and two books are already shown as pre-orders on Amazon: “Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLU Cases,” publication date Jan. 21, 2020; and “Democracy, If We Can Keep It: The ACLU’s 100-Year Fight for Rights in America,” July 7, 2020.

These books focus on personal essays and views or a historical overview, while my work, The ACLU’s First 100 Years at the U.S. Supreme Court, is a compilation of all the decided Supreme Court cases in which the ACLU has been involved in since its founding in January of 1920 through its 100-year anniversary in January of 2020. In addition to two-1/2-page (or so) summaries of each case, the first one being 1925, this work also includes a breakdown both by wins and losses by decade, and the Justices’ voting records on each of those cases, and related data.

This work comes in two stand-alone formats

1. The full work is a four-volume set (8 1/4″ X 10 ¾, approximately 750 pages each) which will have all the cases from 1925-January 2020. Each case (estimated at 1,100 cases depending on the number of cases found through January 2020) is summarized in plain English, in approximately three pages.

2. A 45,000-word Handbook is identical to the four-volume set, except that it only contains three examples of the estimated 1,100 analyzed laws in the full work. 

The Foreword for this work is written by Erwin Chemerinsky, a nationally prominent scholar in U.S. Constitutional law, and Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law. Anthony D. Romero of the ACLU also knows about and supports my project and how it can serve to educate the public about the ACLU.

This project initially came out of my search for a marketing hook for an ACLU brochure I had volunteered to write in 1981, two years after I joined the organization’s Southern California affiliate in 1979. After trying to understand what the ACLU was all about for the purpose of this marketing brochure, I contacted Ira Glasser, the fifth executive director of the Union (from 1978 to 2001), for a list of the ACLU’s U.S. Supreme Court cases. I was surprised to learn that that information had never been compiled. 

Being more than a bit stubborn, I set out on what became an almost four-decade endeavor to compile the data. In this effort, I have had the help of assistants, secretaries, researchers, attorneys, electronic databases, and several organizations – including ProCon.org, a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) public charity that I founded in 2004 – as well as the ACLU and some of its members. 

An example of what these books show – which will be quickly updated after Jan. 20, 2020, to reflect all cases decided during the ACLU’s first 100 years:

– Of its 1,000-plus cases, the ACLU has been on the winning side over 50%, and has been on the unanimous prevailing side of those cases an estimated over 170 times, compared to 60 times on the losing unanimous side. 

– How each Justice voted in each case – whether with or against the side the ACLU was on.

– The percentage of 51 Supreme Court Justices appointed by Republican versus Democratic presidents. 

Marketing-wise, the parties potentially interested in this work should include the legal community, law libraries, members of the ACLU and the media. In terms of potential audience, there are about 116,000 libraries in the United States, of which about 6,000 are law libraries with membership in the American Association of Law Libraries. There are approximately 1.3 million licensed, active lawyers in the U.S., and according to the ACLU website, the organization has “more than 1.5 million members, nearly 300 staff attorneys, thousands of volunteer attorneys, and offices throughout the nation.” In addition, the Trump presidency has sparked increased interest in the rule of law, the ACLU and the Supreme Court. 

I believe that, for many, this work will cast the ACLU in a new and perhaps surprising or even shocking light, that will inspire some to delve into the breadth and depth of data on the ACLU and its Supreme Court history – particularly those with legal, political or social science interests. Given that the work is comprised of basic data, it should be the foundation for ongoing study, analysis and debate for years to come. 

I’m a businessman and entrepreneur with a long-held interest in the law and social issues. I was published in the national magazine The American Lawyer in December 1991 with “Making Firms Do It Your Way,” a common-sense contract between a client and his lawyer.  In 1997, I founded the nonprofit A-Mark Foundation [www.amarkfoundation], which I still chair. That foundation publishes nonpartisan information on different issues, and, for example, conceived and financed three Richard A. Clarke National Scholarly Monograph Contests: in 2013, 2012 and 2011. In 2004, I founded ProCon.org [www.procon.org], a nonprofit public charity promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, and primarily pro-con format. 

My online bio is available at www.stevencmarkoff.com

If you could have an interest in knowing more about my ACLU manuscripts, or seeing the work in PDF or in a bound draft, let me know.

Respectfully,

Steven (Steve) C. Markoff

scmarkoff@aol.com