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Bar passage standards, arming teachers, LGBT issues on tap for ABA midyear meeting

January 8, 2019

Proposals dealing with bar passage standards, firearms in schools, illegal immigration and LGBT discrimination are among several topics to be discussed later this month at the 2019 American Bar Association Midyear Meeting.

More than 600 members of the policy-making ABA House of Delegates will meet Jan. 28 in Las Vegas to discuss a myriad of resolutions, ranging from ensuring the accuracy of criminal records to urging the Trump administration to rescind its “Zero Tolerance” illegal immigration policies, according to the ABA.

Delegates will also discuss a returning issue – possibly changing the bar passage standards to a standard the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar suggests would simplify it for ABA-approved law schools. The council’s adopted proposal, Resolution 105, would revise Standard 316 to require at least 75 percent of a law school’s graduates who sit for a bar examination to pass within two years of their graduation date. 

A similar proposal was brought before the House of Delegates in February 2017 but was met with opposition and scrutiny. That measure was ultimately rejected.

Under ABA procedures, the House of Delegates can review a change in ABA legal education standards twice, but the Council can enact the change without the House’s concurrence.

Additionally, delegates will take a look at resolution that would put the ABA on record as opposing laws that authorize teachers, principals or other non-security school personnel to possess a firearm in or near a pre-K through 12th grade school. Proposal 106A also urges banning the use of public funds for firearms training for teachers, principals or other non-security personnel, or for firearm purchases for those individuals.

Among the other resolutions coming before the House of Delegates this month are Resolutions 113 and 114, which oppose LGBT discrimination and urge Congress to explicitly affirm that such discrimination is a violation of the Civil Rights Act. Further, Resolution 114 would call on Congress to affirm that “federal statutory protections for religious freedom do not authorize violation of nondiscrimination laws” and that “religiously neutral laws of general applicability prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity do not improperly burden the religious free exercise rights of those operating places of public accommodation.”

A full list of resolutions to be discussed on at the midyear meeting can be found here.

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