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Press Release Source: American Bar Association

American Bar Association to Consider Opposing Proposed Inspector General for The Federal Judiciary
Sunday August 6, 2006

Legislation Would Erode Separation of Powers and Jeopardize Fair and Impartial Decision-Making by the Judiciary, Report Says

HONOLULU, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Bar Association House of Delegates will consider a late-breaking policy recommendation opposing pending legislation to create an inspector general for the federal judiciary answerable to Congress. According to the proposal and accompanying report, such a law would undermine the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers and impede the judiciary's ability to make fair and impartial decisions free from the influence of Congress. The House will meet Aug. 7 - 8 in Hawaii.

The resolution does not represent the policy of the American Bar Association until it is approved by the House of Delegates. Informational reports, comments and supporting data are not approved by the House in its voting and represent only the views of the Section or Committee submitting them.

Sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judicial Improvements, the recommendation would put the association on record opposing companion bills H.R. 5219, sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Wis., and S. 2678, introduced by Sen. Charles Grassley, Iowa, in the 109th Congress. The proposal also would oppose the creation of any statutory inspector general with close ties to Congress and broad investigative power over judges and the judiciary.

"Our country's founders purposely created an independent judiciary as a separate and co-equal branch of government, in order that courts could make fair and impartial decisions, free from pressure or influence of the other branches, and to check and balance the powers of the other branches," said American Bar Association President Michael S. Greco. "This misguided legislation calling for creation of an inspector general to 'oversee' judges would formally subject the judiciary to constant institutional pressure and interference from Congress, a direct threat to the separation of powers doctrine. It would also hamper judges' ability to decide cases fairly and impartially, based only on the facts and the law. In its wisdom Congress should reject this unwarranted, dangerous and unconstitutional intrusion into the judiciary's powers."

In addition to opposing congressional creation of an inspector general for the federal judiciary, the recommendation would acknowledge recent efforts by the Judicial Conference of the United States to improve its internal oversight. At the same time, the proposal would urge the conference, along with the Supreme Court of the United States, and the circuit councils of each judicial circuit, to reinvigorate public confidence in the judiciary by regularly reviewing and enhancing oversight of judicial administration and ethics. Finally, the recommendation would urge members of Congress and the federal judiciary to build a more constructive, cooperative and regular dialogue about issues of mutual concern.

With more than 410,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law in a democratic society.

Editor's Note: A copy of the report and recommendations is available at http://www.abanet.org/media/nosearch/igresreport.pdf. The ABA is operating a full-service Press Room in the Hawaii Convention Center, 3rd Floor, Room 324. The phone number there is 808/792-6622.



Source: American Bar Association


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