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April 29, 2024 Column

Chair’s Message

Jessica A. Bacher

I am happy to report the ABA Section of State and Local Government is off to a great start this year, thanks in no small part to our dedicated volunteers who contribute to the Section’s thriving programs. Earlier this year, the Section sponsored several significant panels at ABA’s 2024 Mid-Year Meeting, which was held January 31st through February 5th in Louisville, Kentucky.

Section-sponsored panels included “The CROWN ACT Goes to Court,” which discussed discrimination against natural hairstyles worn by African descendants. Organized and moderated by the Section Diversity Law Committee Chair Kimberly Norwood, the Henry H. Oberschelp Professor of Law at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, the panel covered the historical context, legal framework, and key reforms that address race-based hair discrimination. During “Constitutional Policing: The Case for and Against Qualified Immunity,” the panelists explored the origins of qualified immunity and debated whether the doctrine should remain in place or be eliminated, and “Pathways to Equity: Navigating Racial Equality in the Aftermath of Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA)” examined the Supreme Court’s recent decisions regarding race-based college admissions. “The Past and Future of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms” panel addressed recent case law regarding gun rights and regulation.

The Section’s Spring Meeting is coming up soon. Scheduled for May 2nd through 3rd at Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in White Plains, New York, the Spring Meeting will feature the 2024 Affordable Housing Summit, Spring CLE, and Networking Conference. The Section’s business meeting will follow on May 4th in New York City.

Notable Spring Meeting panels include “Financing Affordable Multifamily Housing with Municipal Bonds,” which will discuss practical tips for financing multifamily affordable housing projects with municipal bonds, and “Presumptive Mediation in New York and Maryland, a Blueprint for the Future,” in which speakers will explain highly successful presumptive mediation techniques. The panel entitled, “Zoning and Leasing: Land use issues in leases and for lessors” will discuss land use representations and warranties in leases, workarounds for private use restrictions, and common land use issues that arise in lease litigation. Organized and moderated by Elizabeth Yang, Chair of the Section’s Election Committee and President of WStrong LLC in Reston, Virginia, the Spring Meeting’s Law Student Election Networking Lunch will focus on actionable steps participants can take to protect the election process. Sara C. Bronin, Professor at Cornell University and Director of the National Zoning Atlas, will deliver the Spring Meeting’s keynote about how the National Zoning Atlas aims to centralize, standardize, and make accessible information about local zoning.

Finally, I am looking forward to ABA’s 2024 Annual Meeting, which will be held August 1st through 3rd in Chicago. The Annual Meeting will feature the Section’s Presidential Showcase Session, entitled “Safeguarding Public Officials: Protecting Judges, Civil Servants, and the Rule of Law.” This session will cover local, state, and national efforts to curb violence, maintain necessary functions of government, and protect the rule of law in the face of increasing threats made toward judges, government workers, and their offices.

To register for the Spring Meeting, visit On-demand links to CLEs from the Midyear Meeting are available: Constitutional Policing: The Case for and against Qualified Immunity and Stepping Up, Lawyers Defending Democracy

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By Jessica A. Bacher

Jessica A. Bacher, Section Chair, is Executive Director of the Land Use Law Center and Adjunct Professor of Law at Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University. Jessica also serves as a lecturer at Yale School of the Environment and a Staff Consultant at the Housing Action Council.