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March 01, 2014

ABA Legislative and Governmental Priorities for 2014

The ABA Board of Governors has approved the following Legislative and Governmental Priorities for the Second Session of the 113th Congress. The selection of the priorities is based on a survey of bar leaders and ABA members and a joint recommendation from the Standing Committee on Governmental Affairs and the Governmental Affairs Office.

Access to Legal Services

Funding for the Legal Services Corporation

•Legal protection and assistance for members of the military, veterans, and family members

•Same level of insurance protection for Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts at credit unions as that provided for banks

Campaign Finance and Election Law Reform

Campaign finance reform to close loopholes in current law and provide for comprehensive and timely disclosure of all campaign contributions and expenditures

Criminal Justice System Improvements and Gun Violence Prevention

Federal sentencing reform to reduce the number of non-violent offenders in the federal prison system and address explosive growth in prison population and costs.

•Reform of federal laws governing remedial prison-based programs aimed at reducing post-prison recidivism and reauthorization of and funding for the Second Chance Act providing resources to states to help people released from prison and jail overcome collateral consequences of conviction 

•Funding for federal and state indigent defense programs

•Enactment of legislation and regulations to reduce gun violence

Elimination of Discrimination

Enactment of Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as well passage of other anti-discrimination legislation concerning veterans, gender equality and disability rights

•Enactment of legislation to enhance remedies under the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Immigration Reform

Comprehensive immigration reform

•Access to legal representation and reform of the overburdened immigration court system

•Opposition to mandatory detention of individuals in

removal proceedings and support for strengthening the detention standards and promulgating them into enforceable regulations

Independence of the Judiciary

 •Prompt filling of judicial vacancies and reduction in vacancy rate

•Support for adequate judicial resources

•Enactment of legislation to permit interception of federal income tax refunds to collect past-due judicial debt owed to state courts     

Independence of the Legal Profession

Opposition to legislation requiring many law firms and other personal service businesses to use the accrual method of accounting and pay taxes on income before it is received

•Support for the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine and opposition to federal government policies that erode those fundamental legal protection

•Opposition to legislation subjecting the legal profession to the anti-money laundering and suspicious activity reporting requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act                

International Rule of Law

Funding for domestic and international agencies and programs that promote the rule of law

•Ratification of certain international treaties, including the Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Rome Statute for an International Criminal Court, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

National Security and Civil Liberties

Congressional consideration of ABA-approved principles for cybersecurity legislation and support for policies to prevent unauthorized intrusions into the computer systems and networks utilized by lawyers and law firms

•Prosecution in Article III courts of Guantanamo detainees charged with criminal violations, unless the attorney general certifies otherwise, and due process with regard to the treatment and detention of suspected terrorists

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