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Washington Letter August 2015


Featured Articles

Rule Of Law

Attorney General recognizes ABA’s efforts; sees more challenges ahead

U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, speaking at the General Assembly Aug. 1 during the ABA’s Annual Meeting, recognized the ABA’s role at the forefront of efforts to strengthen the legal profession, enhance the administration of justice, and ensure the rule of law. “Your ideals, your mission and your passion have attracted the largest membership of any voluntary professional organization in the country,” she said, “and you should all be proud that, time and again, year after year, project after project, you have harnessed the dedication of that impressive following and channeled it forcefully toward improving our system of justice.”

Diversity & Inclusion

New ABA President Paulette Brown announces initiatives

“Creative collaboration” is the tool that ABA President Paulette Brown will use as she undertakes an ambitious agenda to enhance diversity in the profession and increase the association’s membership. In her Aug. 3 speech to the House of Delegates during the Annual Meeting in Chicago, Brown said her efforts to further the association’s work toward a more diverse and inclusive profession and to highlight the tremendous value of the ABA can only be achieved through association-wide collaboration as well as partnering with external organizations – efforts that are already taking place.


ABA urges representation at overseas refugee interviews

The ABA requested last month that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reverse its current ban on access to counsel in overseas refugee interviews. “Representation of counsel would assure that refugees are given a fair chance to navigate the admission process successfully while protecting their human rights,” then ABA President William C. Hubbard wrote in a July 24 letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Leόn Rodríguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Tribal Law & Courts

Association supports empowering Indian tribes with decision-making authority in juvenile justice cases

The ABA urged last month that Indian tribes be empowered with meaningful decision-making authority about their juvenile justice systems and that greater emphasis be placed on providing alternatives to incarceration and culturally appropriate intervention and support. In a letter submitted for the record of a July 15 oversight hearing held by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, the ABA expressed support for the 12 recommendations from the Indian Law and Order Commission’s (ILOC) report entitled “A Roadmap for Making Native America Safer.”


ABA opposes mandatory minimums for illegal reentry

Congress is taking a closer look at punishments for undocumented immigrants who have been deported but later illegally reenter the United States. Several bills pending before the House and Senate would create new mandatory minimum sentences for such offenses. Current law subjects persons convicted of illegal reentry to a sentence of up to two years, unless the person has a criminal record. In those cases, the individual could receive a sentence of up to 20 years.

Federal Government

ABA supports independent agency regulatory bill

The ABA expressed strong support last month for S. 1607, bipartisan legislation that seeks to expand presidential involvement in the rulemaking activities of independent regulatory agencies. The bill – which was introduced by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) – would affirm the president’s authority to issue an executive order requiring independent regulatory agencies to comply, to the extent permitted by law, with regulatory analysis requirements currently applicable to executive agencies when adopting new regulations.