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April 08, 2022 Judicial Division

Director's Column

By Ms. Tori Jo Wible, Chicago, IL

Halfway through the bar year. A global pandemic. War in Eastern Europe. First Amendment cases in the United States Supreme Court. The American Bar Association is discussing standards in legal education.

All these events happened 100 years ago. Except the first, February comes every year! 

By the end of 1919 the “Spanish Flu”, which was first discovered in the United States at Fort Riley, Kansas, was nearly over.

The war in Eastern Europe, including the Battle of Kyiv raged on; the Treaty of Versailles wouldn’t be signed until June.

In Schenck v. United States, (249 US 47, 1919), the court, in a unanimous opinion written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. held that the Espionage Act did not violate the First Amendment and was an appropriate exercise of Congress’ wartime authority. Justice Holmes concluded that courts owed greater deference to the government during wartime, even when constitutional rights were at stake.

The American Bar Association adopted standards for legal education in 1921 that eventually led to the ABA accrediting law schools across the country.

One hundred years later, we are two years into a global pandemic, with the end hopefully in sight. A new war has broken out in the same place, with the same countries and Kyiv again under siege.

In United States v Zubaydah, (595 US ___, 2022), Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, held that the state secrets privilege permits the Government to prevent disclosure of information when that disclosure would harm national security interest, an important First Amendment case.

So little has changed. We seem doomed to keep repeating history. But, then again, I am listening to the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson for a seat on the United States Supreme Court. I feel a little bit like I did on November 4, 2008 - “about time”.

In the Judicial Division, the work continues. Judge Leslie Miller has the Judicial Security committee working on everything from bench cards to webinars. Judge Heather Welch and Col. Linda Strite Murnane are guiding the Decisional Independence Task Force to consensus on issues impacting administrative adjudicators. Judge Marcella Holland is planning diversity programming and outreach events. The Bench & Bar Academy just had its long-awaited debut in Atlanta 2022 rather than Chicago 2020, but a stellar program, nonetheless. The JD’s many liaisons are providing opportunities for collaboration within the ABA. The conferences continue to plan programming and outreach.

All the JD staff positions are filled, and it is an amazing group of women who do incredible work while making it look effortless.

Ms. Tori Jo Wible

Ms. Tori Jo Wible

Judicial Division Director

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