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Bar News - September 8, 2006

ABA Adopts Presidential Signings, Attorney-Client Privilege Policies

The American Bar Association’s policy-making House of Delegates met in Honolulu in August to debate an array of timely and critical issues.


The Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements and the Separation of Powers Doctrine offered a late report to the House opposing the misuse of presidential signing statements. The resolution, adopted by voice vote as amended, stated: “The American Bar Association opposes, as contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers, the misuse of presidential signing statements …” It further stated that the ABA “urges Congress to enact legislation requiring the President promptly to submit to Congress an official copy of all signing statements” he or she issues.


In other action, the ABA House adopted policy opposing legislation currently before the U.S. Congress, H.R.5219 and S.2678, to create an inspector general for the federal judiciary answerable to Congress. The recommendation was approved unanimously by voice vote.


A second task force of the ABA, the Task Force on Attorney-Client Privilege, brought to the House recommendations supporting the preservation of the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine and opposing government policies and procedures that “have the effect of eroding the constitutional and other legal rights” of employees, past or present, if that employee decides to exercise his or her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Resolutions adopting these recommendations were agreed to by the House by voice vote.


In other actions, the House adopted policy:


  • Supporting multinational cooperation and consultation in the formulation of national laws and policies relating to migration.
  • Urging (without taking a position supporting or opposing the death penalty) that each jurisdiction that imposes capital punishment implement specific policies and procedures as it relates to mental illness.
  • Urging federal, state, local and territorial governments to enact legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in employment, housing and public accommodations.
  • Urging the U.S. government to support the Darfur peace accord.
  • Adopting the Principles of a State System for the Delivery of Civil Legal Aid, which describes a system to provide civil legal aid to low-income and vulnerable populations.


The ABA House of Delegates is the association’s policy-making body.


For more information on the ABA, go to


If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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