ABA President Creates Commission on Fair and Impartial State Courts; Sandra Day O’Connor is Honorary Chair
CHICAGO, Sept. 10, 2008—“A fair and impartial judicial branch is the cornerstone of America’s system of government,” said H. Thomas Wells Jr., American Bar Association president, today in announcing creation of the ABA Presidential Commission on Fair and Impartial State Courts.
The commission is charged with convening a summit May 7-9 in Charlotte, N.C., drawing representatives of each branch of government from every state, as well as from nongovernmental organizations, under the theme of “Justice as the Business of Government: a Fair and Impartial Infrastructure for our State Courts.” The goal of the summit is to foster understanding of challenges facing state courts in serving the public, identify ways the three branches of government can cooperate to assure the courts adequate resources to meet those challenges, and launch ongoing coordination among all branches of state and local government to keep courts strong, efficient, and responsive to their citizens.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is honorary commission chair, and will give keynote remarks at the summit.. Edward W. Madeira of Philadelphia and Justice Mark D. Martin of the North Carolina Supreme Court are co chairs of the commission. Working with leaders of the Conference of Chief Justices, Madeira and Martin are urging the chief justice of every state’s high court to attend and encourage participation by representatives of other state government branches.
“Courts are the ultimate shield of our citizenry when special interests pull society or government in one direction or another. Executive and legislative branches are charged with leadership and policy-making, but it is the courts which ensure that individuals do not fall victim to the whims of the majority, that fundamental rights are preserved as essential to the common good,” said Wells. “Each branch of government is essential to maintain a balance of power in this country. We must be vigilant to preserve the role of the least powerful branch.”
Other commission members are R. Edward Cruz, Houston; Gordon L. Doerfer, Boston; Thomas A. Gottschalk, Washington, D.C.; Judge Ernestine S. Gray, New Orleans; Delaware Supreme Court Justice Randy J. Holland; Chief Judge of the State of New York Judith S. Kaye; Rebecca L. Kourlis, Denver; Bernice K. Leber, New York; Arizona Chief Justice Ruth V. McGregor; Mary Campbell McQueen, Williamsburg, Va.; Daniel M. Sprague, Lexington, Ky.; and William C. Vickrey, San Francisco. Prof. Charles G. Geyh of Indiana University, Bloomington, is commission reporter.
With more than 407,000 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.