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Letters & Testimony

These letters and written statements convey the Association's official policy on a wide variety of issues, from administrative law to uniform acts. They also provide detailed explanations of the ABA's position on pending legislation.

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Presentation of Section Policy to Governmental Entities

The ABA's individual sections or divisions occasionally correspond with Congress on matters of importance to their entities. These entities have the authority to develop and communicate their own policies through the use of "blanket authority."

"Blanket authority" is the process through which an ABA section or division seeks authority from other ABA entities to present its own policy statement on matters within its expertise on an issue on which the ABA House of Delegates has not adopted policy. This procedure is generally employed when the subject matter of the position is either extremely technical or supplements an existing Association policy, or when a time-sensitive need exists and it is not possible to have either the ABA House of Delegates or ABA Board of Governors go through the regular process for adopting Association policy.

Please contact individual ABA sections for specific "blanket authority" submissions.

Amicus Curiae Briefs

The filing of an amicus curiae brief in the name of the Association must be authorized by the Board of Governors. The Standing Committee on Amicus Curiae Briefs makes a recommendation to the Board after determining if the proposed brief is consistent with policy, a matter of compelling public interest, and of special significance to lawyers.

Policy on Review and Approval of Reports by ABA Entities

The Board of Governors established a uniform procedure for review and approval of reports, white papers, and other documents released to the public expressing policy preferences by ABA entities that are not issued pursuant to the existing Blanket Authority procedures. Just as the Blanket Authority review process allows ABA sections and divisions to present policy statements or express policy recommendations or preferences to governmental entities, the new review process enables sections, divisions, and other types of ABA entities to publicly disseminate reports, papers, studies, or other documents that make policy recommendations or express policy preferences following appropriate review and approval.

This policy can be found here. In addition, this policy is Section C of Chapter 4 – Association Sections, Committees and Related Organizations of the 2020-2021 Policy and Procedures Handbook (Greenbook).

Guidance – Letters, Statements, and other ABA Support for the Rule of Law in Foreign Countries.

On behalf of the Association, the ABA House of Delegates has adopted policies affirming its support for the rule of law in the international community. It has expressed the ABA’s concern about serious human rights violations that have been brought to the Association's attention. The ABA has recognized the need for an independent judiciary and for the independence of lawyers. The ABA has also noted with deep concern the reported arrests, detentions, and incarceration of lawyers in various foreign countries because of the political views of or human rights advocacy by their clients.

In furtherance of these policies, the ABA President is authorized to send "rule of law" letters to government leaders of countries where violations are alleged to have occurred. In addition to rule of law letters, an entity may recommend that the ABA President issue a statement, conduct media (or social media) outreach, or approve a trial observer. Additional information on the process can be found here.

Guidelines for ABA Delegate Participation in Multinational Intergovernmental Bodies, including the United Nations

The ABA appreciates the active participation of its members at sessions of Intergovernmental Bodies, including the United Nations, which are open to ABA involvement.  ABA delegations are frequently looked to to provide thoughtful expertise on substantive legal and technical matters.  The ABA recognizes that discussions at certain Intergovernmental Body meetings may be more open-ended than other fora and may not in all cases lend themselves to pre-approved formal statements made on behalf of the ABA.

The guideline for ABA delegate participation in multinational intergovernmental bodies can be found here.

ABA Advocacy and Public Statements

This memorandum is intended to set out some of the procedures and caveats implicated when ABA entity leaders have the opportunity to speak to federal, state, or foreign governmental officials or at a forum – such as congressional or agency hearings – at which those officials may be present, or otherwise to advocate on policy matters.

The complete memo can be found here.