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For Immediate Release
Date
: March 8, 2016
Contact:  Valerie Brown Lescroart, (510) 302-2215, valerie@acbanet.org

The Alameda County Bar Association Joins Bar Associations Around California and California State Bar President, David Pasternak to Call on President Obama and Senate to Fill Supreme Court Vacancy

 OAKLAND, CA – Today, the Alameda County Bar Association (ACBA) joined bar associations from across the state of California to send a letter to President Barack Obama and Senate leaders urging them to heed their constitutional duty to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. The bar associations, representing tens of thousands of lawyers throughout the state, called on the president to quickly nominate a qualified candidate to the Supreme Court, and for the Senate to consider that nominee without delay. In addition to the ACBA, the signatories to the letter include the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Lake County Bar Association, and other state and local bar associations.

Commenting on the decision to join forces with other bar associations in this effort, ACBA President Stephanie Sato stated, “As my colleagues and I fulfill our duty to fight for justice for our clients, we ask that the President and the Senate fulfill their constitutional duties. Justice cannot prevail if our nation’s highest court is compromised by politics.”

The ACBA was established in 1877 and has a membership of approximately 1,500 attorneys, judges, law students, and other legal professionals. Located in downtown Oakland, the ACBA administers numerous programs and activities to benefit attorneys and the community. The ACBA’s decision to join in the letter was taken after a vote of the members of its governing board on March 1, 2016.

In addressing the possibility that the nomination and confirmation process might be thwarted, the letter warns that “[t]he implications of this course of action would be significant, subjecting people in different regions of the country to different legal standards on matters of constitutional importance and leaving open the specter of an unresolved constitutional crisis.”

The letter goes on to explain that “the framers placed in the hands of the executive and legislative branches of our government a duty to ensure that the third pillar of our democracy, our courts, would be protected from entanglement in partisan politics.” “While careful evaluation and reasoned debate regarding the qualifications of the nominee are central to the Senate’s role to advise and consent, it would undermine the rule of law and risk nullifying the Supreme Court’s power to serve its constitutional role as arbiter of disputes, were the confirmation process to be delayed until a new president is inaugurated.”

With the issuance of this letter, bar associations representing the two most populous cities in the United States, New York and Los Angeles, have now called on the Senate to consider a nominee to the Supreme Court without delay. The California letter comes on the heels of similar calls by the New York State and New York City Bars  respectfully requesting the Senate to reconsider its refusal to consider a nominee put forward by the president. Constitutional law scholars at universities around the country have also weighed in via a joint statement, pointing out that the Constitution “has no exception for election years.”

The letter signed by the California bar associations ends, “We ask that you carry out your constitutionally prescribed roles with full fealty to the oaths you have taken so that our Supreme Court is returned to its full membership.”

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Open Letter to the President and Senate

Open Letter to the President and Senate
From California Bar Associations Regarding
Filling the Vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States

 

March 8, 2016
The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C.  20500
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
United States Senate
Majority Leader
317 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20510
The Honorable Harry Reid
United States Senate
Minority Leader
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20510
The Honorable Chuck Grassley
United States Senate
Chair, Committee on the Judiciary
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20510
The Honorable Patrick Leahy
United States Senate
Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary
437 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C.  20510

Dear Mr. President, Senator McConnell, Senator Reid, Senator Grassley, and Senator Leahy:

We write on behalf of numerous California bar associations and as bar leaders who have taken an oath to defend the Constitution.  We call on President Obama to act with deliberate speed to nominate an exceptionally qualified person to the Supreme Court.  We also urge the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty to advise and consent, so that our highest Court may continue to perform its critical function at the apex of our third branch of government.
Article II of the Constitution requires the President, “with the advice and consent of the Senate,” to appoint judges to the Supreme Court.  Through this section, the framers placed in the hands of the executive and legislative branches of our government a duty to ensure that the third pillar of our democracy, our courts, would be protected from entanglement in partisan politics.  We trust that you will fulfill this duty.
While careful evaluation and reasoned debate regarding the qualifications of the nominee are central to the Senate’s role to advise and consent, it would undermine the rule of law and risk nullifying the Supreme Court’s power to serve its constitutional role as arbiter of disputes, were the confirmation process to be delayed until a new president is inaugurated.  Were such a path to be followed, the Court would be forced to sit for two terms, and over a year, with a vacancy.  The implications of this course of action would be significant, subjecting people in different regions of the country to different legal standards on matters of constitutional importance and leaving open the specter of an unresolved constitutional crisis.  The rule of law requires an ultimate arbiter.  The Constitution has placed the Supreme Court in that role.
We ask that you carry out your constitutionally prescribed roles with full fealty to the oaths you have taken so that our Supreme Court is returned to its full membership.
Sincerely,
Alameda County Bar Association
Los Angeles County Bar Association
Lake County Bar Association
Yolo County Bar Association
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
Asian American Prosecutors Association
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County
Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom – BALIF
California Employment Lawyers Association
Charles Houston Bar Association
East Bay La Raza Lawyers Association
Filipino Bar Association of Northern California
Korean American Bar Association of Northern California
Korean American Bar Association of Southern California
Marin County Women Lawyers
Mexican American Bar Association
Queen’s Bench Bar Association of the San Francisco Bay Area
Women Lawyers of Alameda County
David Pasternak, President, California State Bar *
cc:        United States Senators
*Title for identification only. Signed in personal capacity and not official capacity.           

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