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July 29, 2019

ABA House agenda includes measures on marijuana, college free speech and immigration

CHICAGO, July 29, 2019 --The American Bar Association House of Delegates, which determines association-wide policy, will consider proposals at the upcoming ABA Annual Meeting that urge free speech on college campuses, leadership in resolving the “current stalemate” between federal and state marijuana laws, and a host of recommendations related to immigration laws.

The House — made up of 594 delegates from state, local and other bar associations and legal groups from across the country — will meet at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Aug. 12-13 to close the 2019 ABA Annual Meeting, which begins Aug. 8. Altogether, nearly five dozen proposals are on the House’s agenda.

Resolution 10C urges colleges and universities to protect all members of their communities and all speakers on their campuses and other locations from censorship, intimidation or retaliation based on their opinions or beliefs. The accompanying report notes that “free expression is threatened, particularly on college and university campuses” and that schools should resist pressures seeking to censure a broad range of speech, from calls to disinvite LGBT speakers to efforts to prevent anti-Trump student columns.

With states continuing to relax marijuana laws, Resolution 104 says it is time to end a conflict between a growing number of these state laws and federal law, which still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance reserved for drugs that have a high potential for abuse, lack any medical value and can’t be safely prescribed.

A recent count showed that 33 states and the District of Columbia have adopted “Medical Only” marijuana laws and another 11, including D.C., have adopted “Adult and Medical Use” laws. Resolution 104 specifically recommends that Congress approve legislation to exempt from the federal Controlled Substances Act any production, distribution, possession, or use of marijuana carried out in compliance with state laws. It also urges removal of marijuana from Schedule I drugs and additional scientific research into the effects of commercially available U.S. cannabis products.

With various states considering changes to their Model Penal Code, Resolution 114 would put the ABA on record as rejecting any requirement that sexual assault victims have a legal burden of verbal or physical resistance. The resolution urges state legislatures and courts to define consent in these cases as “the assent of a person who is competent to give consent … and to provide that consent is expressed by words or action in the context of all the circumstances.”

Other proposals before the House include:

  • Six different immigration proposals. Resolution 121E recommends that federal Circuit Courts of Appeals establish or expand pro bono programs to provide pro bono representation to pro se appellants to help efficiently resolve immigration cases. Resolution 121F asks that the Executive Office for Immigration Review amend regulations to eliminate the automatic termination of voluntary departure when an applicant petitions for judicial review under the law and implement an automatic stay of removal or deportation pending judicial review. Additional immigration resolutions, mainly dealing with administrative procedures, are 121A, 121B, 121C and 121D.
  • Two resolutions relate to compensation and fairness. Resolution 106 urges legal employers to implement and maintain policies and practices to close the compensation gap between similarly situated male and female lawyers. Resolution 115B seeks legislation that would provide stronger remedies and protections against pay discrimination based on sex, including gender and gender identity, race and ethnicity to help overcome persistent barriers that impede the achievement of pay equity.
  • Resolution 10B seeks to enact legislation and appropriate adequate funding to ensure equal access to justice for Americans living in rural communities by assuring proper broadband access is provided throughout the United States.
  • Resolution 102 recommends lawyer licensing agencies to explore implementing a “Pro Bono Scholars”-style program in their respective jurisdictions to allow law students, in the final semester of their third year of law school, to obtain a full-time, externship providing supervised pro bono services. Moreover, the resolution says these “scholars” should be able to take the February bar examination during their final semester of law school.

All proposed and filed resolutions and reports can be found here. Only proposals adopted by the House constitute association policy.

Reporters may pick up their media badges at the meeting registration area at the Marriott Marquis (Lower B2 Level). During the Annual Meeting, a media room for accredited journalists will be open at Sierra Suite E of the Marriott Marquis starting at 9 a.m. on Aug. 8. Thereafter, the media room will be open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will close one hour after the House of Delegates adjourns on Aug. 13.



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