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September 29, 2023

Statement of ABA President Mary Smith Re: The death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein

CHICAGO, Sept. 29, 2023 – The American Bar Association is deeply saddened today by the death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Sen. Feinstein was a true friend of justice and a defender of the importance of an independent, impartial judiciary.

Sen. Feinstein was a longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was the committee’s ranking member from 2017 to 2021. Sen. Feinstein objected in 2017 when federal judicial nominees were rushed to the committee without proper vetting by the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. “I believe that the ABA’s independent, nonpartisan peer evaluations of judicial nominees are important and that senators ought to be able to look at these ratings and take them into account before a nominee’s hearing,” she said.

Sen. Feinstein also was a co-sponsor of the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act, supported by the ABA and adopted by Congress in 2022. The act strengthened judicial independence by protecting the public dissemination of judges’ personal information. The law was named after the son of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, who was murdered at the judge’s home in 2020 by a disgruntled litigant. “Serving as a federal judge shouldn’t put your life or the lives of your family at risk,” Sen. Feinstein said.

Sen. Feinstein understood the vital importance of the rule of law in the United States and used her position in the Senate to ensure that it remained strong. In 2018, Sen. Feinstein received the ABA Justice Award for her support of the Legal Services Corporation and her leadership in the pursuit of justice for all. She will be truly missed.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.