We Need You: Member input will help set ABA legislative priorities
The 118th Congress is scheduled to open Jan. 3. New and returning senators and representatives will likely confront significant challenges of interest to the legal profession, including some that could impact how attorneys serve their clients throughout the country.
The Governmental Affairs Office partners with ABA leadership, entities and grassroots advocates to advance the ABA’s positions on policy issues affecting access to justice, the rule of law and the profession. To help the ABA decide which advocacy issues to prioritize in Washington, D.C., we survey members for input prior to the beginning of each new Congress. GAO has emailed this year’s survey to members; it is also accessible at ambar.org/priorities and will remain open until Dec. 14.
This input is critical to informing the ABA’s legislative priorities process and will be included with other information presented to the Board of Governors for approval at the 2023 ABA Midyear Meeting in February.
When following this process two years ago, the board approved 10 priorities for the current Congress:
- Access to legal services
- Criminal justice system improvements
- Election integrity and civiceducation
- Elimination of discrimination
- Immigration reform
- Independence of the judiciary
- Judicial oversight of the legal profession
- International rule of law
- Legal education
Progress was made in several of these areas during the 117th Congress, but other issues remain unaddressed or unresolved. Once the new congressional session begins, the ABA will continue championing federal legislation and regulations that align with our current core priorities while also monitoring governmental proposals of interest to the ABA for potential action.
To help increase access to justice, the ABA will continue advocating for robust federal funding for civil legal aid to ensure more low-income Americans receive the help they desperately deserve, especially in the wake of the pandemic, natural disasters, increasing inflation and unemployment. We will also urge increased federal support for quality state public defense programs.
To preserve traditional court oversight of the legal profession, the ABA will continue to oppose federal legislation or proposed rules that would impose excessive new regulations on the practice of law; undermine the attorney-client privilege; interfere with the confidential lawyer-client relationship; or otherwise weaken the authority of the state supreme courts.
The ABA will also maintain its steadfast advocacy to protect the independence of the judiciary, enhance security for our federal judges and improve our nation’s immigration court system.
Additionally, we expect criminal justice reforms to remain a top priority, especially as they relate to eliminating racial and ethnic bias in the criminal justice system and promoting sentencing, corrections and reentry reforms.
Adding to our advocacy
What other issues will make ABA’s legislative priorities list for the 118th Congress? Time—and members’ input—will tell.
As the ABA and GAO look ahead to 2023, we are thankful for our steadfast and loyal members, grassroots advocates and bar association colleagues for their significant support throughout the 117th Congress. We look forward to responding to new legislative challenges and opportunities during the 118th Congress.
Major challenges lie ahead on Capitol Hill and within the White House. But our legislative priorities will guide us through what will be another turbulent Congress in the lead up to the 2024 elections.
The ABA will continue to serve in Washington, D.C., as the voice of the legal profession and our members. If you would like to take the legislative priorities survey and have your voice heard, go to ambar.org/priorities.
Join the ABA’s Grassroots Action Team at ambar.org/grassroots to have a direct role in ABA advocacy.
This report is written by the ABA's Governmental Affairs Office and discusses advocacy efforts by the ABA relating to issues being addressed by Congress and the executive branch of the U.S. government.