Referring to the meeting’s host city, Denver, she said, “our involvement in the bar gives lawyers like us a mile-high view of law—not as a job, but a calling to justice,” which she said inspired her to focus her year “on the 3 C’s that are the Cornerstones of Democracy—civics, civility and collaboration.”
Saying that the legal profession and rule of law “are under the spotlight as never before,” Enix-Ross called it “our duty as lawyers to lead our communities in understanding and appreciating these Cornerstones of Democracy.”
She added that the 2023 ABA Survey of Civic Literacy found that a full 85% of respondents said that civility is worse than 10 years ago, and quoted Suzanne Spaulding, longtime ABA law and national security leader and member of the Cornerstones Commission, who said, “The need for civics education in America is a national security priority.”
This year the ABA also collaborated “with groups we don’t often interact with, including the Federalist Society,” she said, and that Cornerstones was the theme of a program held last month at the Columbus, Ohio, headquarters of Nationwide, which has long championed civics education in the workplace.
The ABA-cosponsored program “drew more than 700 Nationwide employees,” she said, including “two Ohio members of the Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus—one Democrat, one Republican.”
Enix-Ross called Nationwide’s program a model “for the business community” and asked Nationwide’s Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Mark Howard to come up and receive an ABA presidential citation for the company’s efforts.
The outgoing president turned to the work of the Task Force on Law, Society and the Judiciary, chaired by past President Linda Klein. “Task force members connected to both political parties collaborated to develop concrete steps to improve the public’s understanding and trust of the judiciary,” she said.
“Its recommendations on the federal judicial confirmation process, judicial ethics, transparency in judicial decision making, security for judges and public education to bolster public confidence in the judiciary add to and complement the ABA’s longstanding policies and activity in these areas,” Enix-Ross said. She added that she sent the report to Chief Justice Roberts and that the ABA stands “ready to assist the Supreme Court in implementing its recommendations.”
Thanking the House for “this glorious, remarkable opportunity” to lead the ABA, she referred to both the Rocky Mountains surrounding Denver and the peaks suggested by the ABA logo, saying, “as we go uphill, may we ascend to new heights, magnificent views and perhaps even revelation. As we go downhill, may we return to our basecamp of civics, civility and collaboration with … grace.”