Midterm vote, reproductive rights on ABA agenda

Legal responses following Roe v. Wade’s demise, safety precautions amidst concerns of court violence and defensive plans to secure the November election are chief among issues that will be explored at the 2022 American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Chicago Aug. 3-9.

Newly retired U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer will receive the ABA’s highest honor, the ABA Medal, at the General Assembly meeting, for which he will serve as well as the keynote speaker.
In addition, Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and John Cornyn (R-TX) will be recognized for their lifetime achievements during the festivities.

Among other notable presenters at the event, President Ron Flagg of the Legal Services Corporation and former President Christina Blacklaws of the Law Society of England will offer regulatory innovations to narrow the U.S. access-to-justice gap.

In addition, the ABA House of Delegates — the association’s 583-member policymaking body — will meet in-person to consider the nearly three dozen proposals for debate and vote during the two-day session.
Programs include:

• “Mitigating the Risks of Climate Change: Future Legal, Financial and Technology Developments in Carbon Markets” — Discussion will focus on the nascent and rapidly developing carbon-credit market as a means to mitigate climate change. Do carbon credits incentivize a carbon-neutral future, or do they legitimize excess emissions by allowing the most significant offenders to purchase credits and ignore the call to reduce their harmful outputs?

• “Judicial and Lawyer Ethics in a Virtual Court” — Judges and lawyers will discuss the ethical parameters of virtual proceedings identified over the last two years, including those involving the confidentiality of communications; confidentiality of sharing information; private chats; access to justice and equity concerns on technology and its usage; and multi-jurisdiction practice.

• “A Bird’s-eye Vantage Point of Defending Democracy” — Local government officials exchange their preparations for the challenges expected in the 2022 midterm elections. Topics include election disinformation campaigns, physical threats against election officials, potential cybersecurity attacks and partisan excoriation against election officials trying to do their jobs within the construct of complicated election procedures.

• “Come Play in the Sandbox: Re-regulation and Limited Testing Grounds” — Regulatory innovations implemented to increase access to justice are thriving across the country. Stakeholders of these new efforts — including President Ron Flagg of the Legal Services Corporation and former President Christina Blacklaws of the Law Society of England — will examine how these “legal sandboxes” work, their efficacy and issues arising from them, using notable examples from around the globe.

• “COVID-19 Relief Fraud: What is the Future of Enforcement?” — Top enforcement personnel from the Department of Justice and Small Business Administration present aggressive and ongoing efforts to investigate, prosecute and hold civilly responsible companies and individuals for defrauding COVID-19 relief programs. Panelists will detail newly formed task forces and update on criminal prosecutions, which began two years ago.

• “Cybersecurity: Emerging Trends and Practical Tips to Navigate Ever-Changing Requirements” — Lawyers who have weathered a cyber crisis will share lessons learned that will help others protect business and avoid operational disruption. They will also discuss the emerging security issues that arise during government contract formation and administration.

• “The Covenant Conundrum: Racial Restrictions and Enforceable Covenants with Segregative Effects” — As several states enact laws that remove or repudiate legally enforceable deed restrictions, including racial and religious covenants, a panel will examine the latest cases as well as a related model law in development from The Uniform Law Commission.

• “Is it the End of Roe and the Rule of Law?” — Frontline stakeholders from the Center for Reproductive Rights, EverThrive Illinois and the Hope Clinic for Women will examine the implications and share proposed next steps following the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and the Texas SB8 case, while also strategizing on how to address the hundreds of laws that are being introduced by state legislatures to limit or prohibit access to reproductive health care.

• “Is it Really Our Right to Keep and Bear Arms? A Candid Discussion on the Second Amendment” – A panel of Illinois-based legal scholars and community stockholders – including Judge William Hooks of the Circuit Court of Cook County and Illinois Supreme Court Justices P. Scott Neville Jr. and Mary Jane Theis – will debate 2nd Amendment-related topics of concern.

• “Can Courts Avoid Politicization in a Polarized America?” — Pundits, academics and jurists — including California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, former Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales and U.S. Circuit Judge Gregg J. Costa of New Orleans — discuss how partisan politics have caused expectations of party-line outcomes of judicial decisions.