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December 31, 2017

U.S. Attorneys

ABA President Hilarie Bass wrote to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last month asking him to urge senators to take diversity into consideration when proposing candidates to President Trump for nomination to become U.S. attorneys. In her Nov. 30 letter, Bass emphasized the importance of diversity in the justice system and its relationship to the perception of fair treatment. This, she said, is especially true for those in the justice system who hold positions of authority such as the 93 U.S. attorneys, who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate for four-year terms to represent the government as federal prosecutors in civil and criminal cases in the federal judicial districts. “U.S. attorneys are unquestionably among the most visible and powerful components of our justice system and, like judges, are symbols of government authority,” she said. The position of U.S. attorney, she added, is also a platform for future employment in the profession as judges, law firm leaders, professors, and elected officials. She noted that an equal number of men and women graduate from law school today, yet they enter a profession that is 65 percent male and 85 percent white (non-Hispanic) – a slight improvement from the year 2000, when statistics showed that the profession was 73 percent male and 88.8 percent white (non-Hispanic).  She said the ABA is greatly concerned that a lower percentage of women and people of color have been appointed to U.S. attorney positions in the past year than in previous presidential administrations. “Our failure to achieve a diverse justice system despite the ever-increasing multiculturalism of our nation invites a crisis in public confidence,” she wrote, highlighting that the ABA has made increasing diversity and eliminating bias in the legal profession and the justice system one of four principal goals of the association.