Marijuana, immigration, new president on ABA House of Delegates schedule this week

Dozens of policy issues will be addressed over the next two days during the American Bar Association’s 2019 annual meeting, where a new president will be installed.

The ABA House of Delegates will vote on proposed resolutions Monday and Tuesday, addressing free speech on college campuses, state leadership on marijuana laws and immigration matters.  It will also install New Orleans attorney Judy Perry Martinez as the next ABA president at the conclusion of the meeting.

Martinez has served in various leadership positions in the ABA over the past 35 years, including chairing the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which is tasked with evaluating nominees to the federal bench, and the ABA Presidential Commission on the Future of Legal Services.

Perry said she plans to devote her presidency to bolstering the ABA’s core goals. The new president, who will take office at the close of the House of Delegates session Tuesday, said she desires to rally the legal profession to better champion the rule of law and create a public dialogue regarding trust and respect for the justice system.

“As lawyers, advancing the rule of law, which protects everyone’s liberties, is of paramount importance,” Martinez said, according to the ABA. “The ABA will work to increase public awareness, so more people understand the vital role they can play in protecting democracy. Working together, we can ensure that laws are fair and justly enforced, and our rights are never taken for granted.”

Prior to Perry’s installation, more than 40 resolutions will be up for discussion before the House of Delegates, including Resolution 10C, which urges colleges and universities to protect all members of their communities and on- and off-campus speakers from censorship, intimidation or retaliation based on their opinions or beliefs, as protected by the First Amendment.

Also, Resolution 104 urges an end to conflicts between state marijuana laws and federal law, which classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. The proposal calls on Congress to remove marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance and would allow states to develop marijuana policies while giving the federal government a role in establishing minimum regulatory standards. The resolution also enables “beneficial access to marijuana under federal law” and promotes “research to ensure both state and federal policy are informed by scientific knowledge.”

Among the multiple proposals touching on immigration issues is Resolution 121E, which urges federal circuit courts of appeals to establish or expand pro bono programs to provide pro bono representation to pro se appellants in immigration cases. Other immigration-related resolutions recommend administrative changes to immigration law and procedures.

Additional proposed resolutions address employment fairness based on gender and sexual orientation, as well as the request that legislatures and courts define consent in sexual assault cases and reject requirement that sexual assault victims have a legal burden of verbal or physical resistance.

Resolutions must be approved by the House of Delegates before they become the policy of the ABA.

The annual meeting is being held this year in San Francisco.

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