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July 01, 2011

A Message from the Chair

by Kay H. Hodge

It is my honor and privilege to serve as chair of the Section for 2011–12. My hope is that this will be a year that we engage those of you who are members of the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities (IRR) to work on projects in areas that interest you. I also hope that we will begin to engage those who are not members to join us in our work.

Our Section works to ensure that the rights protected  by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are a vital part of discussions and decisions related to our democracy, our justice system, and individuals both within and outside our country. We raise questions and concerns on many of the most important issues confronting our society—questions of life and death, of equality and opportunity, of power and victimization. For many of us, the issues and con- cerns of the Section are the reason that we went to law school.

Although few of us are able to devote our professional lives to these issues, each of us can and should support  the work of IRR by our participation and resources. We should also convince our friends to do likewise. It cannot be said often enough that the rights and privileges provided by our Constitution and laws are meaningless unless lawyers continue to work to effectuate the purpose of those words in real-life situations. That is what we do at IRR.

We welcome your participation on one of our substantive committees: Civil Rights & Equal Opportunity, Environmental Justice, First Amendment Rights, National Security & Civil Liberties, Elder Rights, Native American Concerns, Rights of Immigrants, Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Rights of Women, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity, Criminal Justice, Death Penalty, Health Rights and Bioethics, International Human Rights, Public Education, or the Joint Committee with Criminal Justice Section on Terrorism and War Detention. If you prefer, work with us on one of the following op- erational committees: Development, Membership, Amicus Curiae, Thurgood Marshall Dinner, Human Rights magazine Editorial Board, or Diversity.

I particularly look forward to welcoming you to my hometown of Boston on

May 3–5, 2012, for a conference on how we, as lawyers, can work to narrow the educational achievement gap of poor and minority children and build on the work of Thurgood Marshall. More information about the conference will be available on the Section’s Web site in early 2012 and in the next issue of this magazine.

I also encourage you to get others to join us in our work. Anyone who is already a member of the ABA can join the Section for only $45 per year. For lawyers who are not already ABA members, they will need to first join the ABA and then the Section. Importantly, for those of you who work for non- profit organizations that focus on, among other things, issues related to poor people, you may take advantage of the new $100 ABA dues category. Law students may join for free.

We invite you to join us. Please go to our Web site at or contact the IRR office at (202) 662-1030.