American Bar Association’s Midyear Meeting: A Critical Take-Home Message to Lawyers

American Bar AssociationSure, February in Florida sounds like the place for a perfect winter getaway. However, it was also the locale of some pretty serious business this year.

During the American Bar Association’s midyear meeting in Miami earlier this month, the organization’s President Linda Klein urged lawyers to take a stand. She specifically told the ABA’s House of Delegates, “Let me tell you what the most important border is: It’s our Constitution and the rule of law it embodies. We as lawyers are called upon to protect it. Make no mistake: Personal attacks on judges are attacks on our Constitution.”

Klein was specifically referring to Donald Trump’s tweets attacking a federal judge who blocked his immigration ban. Trump had tweeted, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”

Klein’s response: “There are no ‘so-called’ judges in America. There are simply judges, fair and impartial. And we must keep it that way.”

Another development at the meeting: Various organizations such as the New York City Bar, the Massachusetts Bar Association, and the Center of Human Rights sponsored Resolution 10C which urges Trump to withdraw his executive order banning people from seven Muslim countries.

And yet another timely result of the meeting—specifically the ABA Law Practice Division Futures Initatiive: The American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Immigration Council, and the American Bar Association Center for Innovation launched ImmigrationJustice.us, a portal for attorneys and others who wish to respond to the executive order. “People interested in volunteering their legal or language expertise can sign up there to work on behalf of affected immigrants,” according to the ABA Journal. “Attorneys and members of the public can also find information there on the travel ban and other immigration-related issues, such as habeas corpus and detention.”

Bottom line: Klein’s speech truly was a rally cry for lawyers: “As lawyers, we are trained to be thinkers and leaders – in our profession, in our communities and in our society,” she said. “So, lawyers – let’s lead! Let’s lead by promoting and protecting the rule of law. Let’s lead in our communities. Let’s lead together, in this, our defining season. For a nation based on the rule of law, nothing is more important than the impartiality and integrity of our court system. A fair and impartial judiciary is a proud hallmark of American democracy.”

 

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