This Month's Articles

Chair of ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary explains “Not Qualified” rating of Trump judicial nominee

The chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary (Standing Committee) appeared Nov. 15 before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain the ABA panel’s unanimous “Not Qualified” rating for Nebraska lawyer Leonard Steven Grasz, who was nominated in August by President Trump to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. In a departure from the ABA panel’s testimony in the past regarding “Not Qualified” ratings for judicial nominees, Standing Committee Chair Pamela A. Bresnahan appeared a week after the Senate committee held its confirmation hearing on the Grasz nomination.

ABA urges approval of asset forfeiture due process bill

The ABA commended Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) this month for leading a bipartisan effort to address due process concerns in federal civil asset forfeiture cases and urged the House Judiciary Committee to approve Sensenbrenner’s bill without weakening amendments. ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman emphasized in an Oct. 25 letter that the bill, H.R. 1795, would take important steps to improve current procedures, including specific notice requirements, representation rights, and burden-of-proof standards.

ABA urges swift action on passage of Dream Act

ABA President Hilarie Bass emphasized to House and Senate leaders this month the urgency of congressional action to address the plight of undocumented young people impacted by the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Acton for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in March 2018. Bass explained in a Nov. 1 letter that the DACA program, established in 2012 by President Obama through executive action, has provided work authorization and temporary protection against deportation for nearly 800,000 young persons who were brought to the United States as children.

ABA opposes Trump administration’s proposed mandatory performance metrics for immigration judges

The ABA, responding to proposed reforms included in the Trump administration’s immigration principles and policies, is opposing any attempt to establish mandatory case completion quotas for immigration judges. The Trump proposals, unveiled Oct. 8, include establishing “performance metrics for immigration judges” for ensuring swift border returns, and that idea was echoed a week later by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an Oct. 16 speech to the Executive Office of Immigration Review.

ABA, other groups sign agreement with Veterans Affairs

The ABA signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) Nov. 13 with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program, and the National Law School Veterans Clinic Consortium that seeks to improve veterans’ access to pro bono legal assistance, including expansion of VA-hosted free legal clinics and medical legal partnerships. The parties signing the MOA agree to “work in a mutually beneficial manner to advance and improve the quality of life for our Nation’s veterans.”

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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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