The ABA Opposes Arizona and Angers Its Membership

By Jon Feere and Jon Feere on July 5, 2010

The American Bar Association is taking some heat from its dues-paying members for filing an amicus brief aimed at stopping Arizona's S.B. 1070.

As explained on its website, the ABA "provides law school accreditation, continuing legal education, information about the law, programs to assist lawyers and judges in their work, and initiatives to improve the legal system for the public."

Now, the ABA seemingly advocates on behalf of illegal aliens who violate the rule of law.

In a video, ABA president Carolyn B. Lamm explains that "it's an extraordinary step, an extraordinary law, and it requires extraordinary action…" The brief argues that S.B. 1070 will lead to racial profiling, will result in unlawful and unreasonable detentions, burden the state's judicial system, and that it is preempted by federal law.

But the brief also goes after E-Verify, decries detention of all illegal aliens and those who may have unsubstantiated claims for asylum, and questions the competence of state and local police officers and the sincerity of Arizona legislators.

An article was written by ABA staffers and posted to the ABA Journal's website and, although articles on the site rarely generate more than a dozen comments, this article has generated over 100 comments [UPDATE: The article has now received over 250 comments]. While a few comments are in support of the brief, the overwhelming majority are in passionate opposition. A sampling of these comments are copied below, and they speaks volumes about the serious public opposition to the open-border crowd's efforts to undermine the rule of law in Arizona. It's really telling when even well-paid attorneys – who will never have to compete with illegal aliens for jobs – are frustrated with open borders. On the other hand, honest lawyers are supposed to be appalled by mass lawlessness. And now, some of these lawyers are aiming their anger at the organization claiming to represent them:

  • Why is this brief being filed by the ABA? I can understand if Carolyn Lamm wants to file this brief on her own behalf, by why on the behalf of the ABA? The ABA should only be filing amicus briefs when advocating for itself or its membership. Seems like an abuse of Ms. Lamm's position.

    And for the record, this isn't an extraordinary law, it's simply a law that's gained extraordinary attention.

  • I see no reason for the ABA to step into this argument. Their reasons for filing this brief have nothing to do with the interests of the organization. Instead it seems like a way for the ABA to get some publicity by jumping on the proverbial bandwagon of organizations who are attacking this law.

    I recently joined the ABA in order to get some very heavily discounted CLE credits, but seeing this story makes me want to get my money back, since they are simply wasting it on actions like this.

  • The more principled stand would have been for the ABA to stand up for the rule of law – including the enforcement of immigration laws. I want a refund of the portion of my ABA dues that were allocated to the creation and filing of this amicus brief.

  • Well, that's just great. I'll try to set aside some time later today to hug a few trees and save some whales. I glad we don't have any problems in the profession to distract the ABA leadership from these critical issues.

    Maybe this will be another case where the court will be decent enough to note for the record that ABA positions are often now completely unrelated to the views and opinions of the membership.

  • How can the esteemed ABA President assume that she can file a brief espousing a politically charged position on behalf of the entire membership? She certainly doesn't speak for me and I'll bet a large number of the ABA members are in favor of the Arizona law. Such intellectual arrogance is inexcusable. No more dues for that organization!

  • I must call for her resignation: The ABA is not the ACLU is any other enforcement arm of any political or ideological principle. The ABA is and must remain a professional association, by and for lawyers…

    Mrs. Lamm clearly stepped outside of the proper boundaries.

  • Every year, the ABA asks why so many lawyers abstain from joining the ABA. Two answers always predominate: the dues are too high, and the ABA takes political stands (often unpopular with many) when it should be non-political. This is how the leadership responds. The ABA should be reminded of how Einstein defined insanity.

  • The ABA taking sides (or perceived as taking sides) in political debates wouldn't be so problematic if it were merely one of many voluntary organizations that one could choose to join.

    But, given the entrenchment of the ABA in federal and state laws as the only entity fit to accredit law schools, the ABA serves as the gatekeeper to the profession.

    Even if a rival organization started up tomorrow, and had just as many members, the ABA would be the one with the power and the media's ear as they claim to represent "all" lawyers.

  • I am a member of the ABA and a regular participant in its committee meetings, and do not support its involvement in a case like this – particularly when so many of its members support Arizona for taking a step to defend itself against a crushing influx of Mexican citizens with no support from the federal government – unless you count the signs posted in the desert last week.

  • I'm appalled by Ms. Lamm's actions. This is a purely political move by Ms. Lamm and our ABA dues should not be used for such, especially when there is such a sharp division on this issue, and the majority of Americans are opposed to her view. The legality of the Arizona law can and will be resolved without any involvement by the ABA. Besides, the issue is not who has the power to enforce immigration laws, and not really the constitutionality of the law. If the Federal government has the power to protect our borders and refuses to act to subjecting the residents of the State of Arizona to potential harm (which is clearly the case here), then it is up to the State of Arizona to take actions the necessary actions to protect its residents since the Federal government is too involved with childish political games to protect the residents of Arizona. If there were any legal fees expended by the ABA on this matter, I insist that Ms. Lamm personally reimburse the ABA, and I also insist that she change the brief to one in her name only and not the name of the ABA. I, along with many other ABA members support the Arizona legislation, and do not want a brief filed on my behalf as a member of the ABA that opposes such legislation.

  • As an ABA member since 1972, I am sorry to learn that the ABA has filed this brief, but not surprised. Over the years, the ABA has come to be dominated by its most hyper-liberal members. The Arizona law simply mirrors federal law. The only reason the ABA opposes it is to attempt to insure the continued non-enforcement of any law and to have open borders. I guarantee that a majority of the ABA's (ever declining) membership does not support the ABA's position here.

  • As a member of the ABA I was very disappointed to see that the organization has openly come out against the Arizona immigration law. At this point in time the political tensions in this country are high, and this organization has only seen fit to fuel the fires of discord both in the country and among its members. I feel that I must seriously consider whether I want to remain a member of the ABA at this point, which saddens me greatly. I have met so many wonderful colleagues here, yet the ABA has begun to appear like an arm of the radical left, rather than a non-partisan professional association. I hope that you re-evaluate whether the ABA is fulfilling its stated mission. You do NOT speak for all of us, and I certainly do not want my own integrity tainted by an alleged professional association that has overstepped the boundaries of its stated mission.

  • I'm so glad the ABA is wasting its time and resources. The ABA is supposed to be here to promote the profession and its members. But instead its leadership wants to pretend it's the ACLU. Thanks… I won't be renewing.

  • The ABA has no business filing a brief like this. It's an abuse of Ms. Lamm's position. I had been debating renewing my membership, but if the ABA is going to become a tool of the ACLU then I have no interest in being a member.

  • The ABA does not speak for me on this and many other issues and will thus receive no financial support from me.

  • Yet another reason why I'm glad I cancelled my ABA membership.