This Month's Articles

White House will not include ABA in pre-nomination process

ABA President Linda A. Klein said last month that the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary will continue to provide its objective evaluations of federal judicial nominees to the Senate Judiciary Committee on a post-nomination basis as part of the judicial confirmation process. Klein was responding to a letter received from the White House in March notifying the association that the Trump administration does not intend to invite the ABA standing committee to conduct pre-nomination evaluations of prospective nominees to the lower federal courts.

ABA urges Congress to consider unique needs of foster care and homeless students during HEA reauthorization

In a March 17 letter to the chair and ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, the ABA emphasized the unique educational needs of students in, or formerly in, foster care and those experiencing homelessness that need to be taken into account as changes are being considered to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The letter was sent by ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman in advance of a hearing held March 21 by the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development.

Legislation would improve availability of legal services to homeless veterans

Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), with cosponsors Reps. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), reintroduced legislation April 7 that would allow the secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to partner with public and private entities to provide legal services to homeless veterans and veterans at risk of homelessness. “Our nation made a lifelong promise to our veterans; and clearly, we can and must do more,” Beatty said.

House postpones action on medical liability legislation before leaving for two-week break

The House left town for a two-week recess this month without taking a vote on H.R. 1215, an ABA-opposed bill that would preempt state laws to impose caps of $250,000 on non-economic damages and place limits on contingency fees that lawyers can charge in medical liability cases. The legislation cleared the House Judiciary Committee on an 18-17 vote after the committee rejected numerous amendments offered by the panel’s Democrats, who maintain that the legislation would impose an unjustifiably low cap on non-economic damages.

Education Department responds to ABA’s PSLF lawsuit

In response to a lawsuit filed in December by the ABA and four other plaintiffs, the Department of Education (ED) issued an answer March 28 indicating that those who were provided with approval for participating in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) cannot rely on information provided to them by the organization contracted by the department to administer the program. The ABA filed the lawsuit after the department rescinded without explanation the association’s status as a qualified employer under PSLF and notified ABA employees and others who had previously been approved for participation in the program that they no longer qualified.

ABA urges Arkansas to modify execution schedule

ABA President Linda A. Klein expressed the ABA’s concern that the scheduling of eight executions during a 10-day period this month in Arkansas undermines due process and impedes adequate legal representation in the individual cases. “While the ABA takes no position on the death penalty itself, it has long been association policy that executions should only be carried out when a state has ensured sufficient procedural safeguards to decrease the risks of injustice,” Klein wrote April 11 to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

ABA president addresses issues surrounding lawyer advertising

ABA President Linda A. Klein, responding March 23 to an inquiry from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), said that a working group of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility is reviewing the issue of attorney advertising. Goodlatte’s request for information was prompted by a recent resolution adopted by the American Medical Association that supports a requirement that attorney commercials that may cause patients to discontinue medically necessary medications have appropriate warnings that patients should not discontinue medications without seeking the advice of their physicians.

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The ABA Washington Letter is a monthly publication produced by the Governmental Affairs Office to report and analyze congressional and executive branch action on legislative issues of interest to the ABA and the legal profession. The newsletter highlights ABA involvement in the federal legislative process and focuses on the association's legislative and governmental priorities and other issues on which the ABA has policy.

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