The American Bar Association’s policymaking body, the House of Delegates, meets Aug. 7-8 in Denver to conclude the 2023 ABA Annual Meeting with more than 50 items on the agenda, including resolutions focusing on law practice, federal judicial rules and procedures, and individual rights.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland will address the House at 9:30 a.m. MDT, shortly after it convenes on Aug. 7 at the Colorado Convention Center. The House, known as the HOD, will also consider a range of resolutions that include a proposal to strengthen ABA Model Rule 1.16: Declining or Terminating Representation. The proposed amendment makes explicit that lawyers have an ethical obligation to review the facts and circumstances of each representation to determine whether the lawyer may accept the case or continue representing the client.
A second practice-oriented proposal urges the federal judiciary to allow an attorney admitted into one U.S. District Court to automatically practice in others, rather than having to apply for each district. Another urges federal courts to bar the filing of a case that seeks to enjoin or mandate the enforcement of a state or federal law or regulation in a court having a single U.S. District Court judge. Activist groups have employed the practice of “judge shopping” by filing cases in districts where a single, predetermined judge is assigned a case.
Another proposed resolution seeks repeal of the once obscure Comstock Act of 1873, which makes it illegal to send “obscene” or “immoral” items through the mail. The 150-year-old law is now at the center of a legal battle over the mailing of abortion pills. Other proposals ask governmental entities to:
- Reject proposed or repeal existing laws and policies discriminating against transgender people, especially youth.
- Condemn Islamophobia or prejudice against Muslims and Islam.
- Support legislation to prohibit discrimination based on caste to protect Dalits and other caste-oppressed communities, who generally are of South Asian descent.
Late resolutions could be added to reflect proposed ABA policy responses to recent national developments. Proposals do not become ABA policy until approved by the House.