For Immediate Release
Date: March 8, 2016
Contact: John Unruh and Jessica Bogo at Chair@balif.org
Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) Joins Bar Associations Around California and California State Bar President, David Pasternak to Call on President Obama and Senate to Fill Supreme Court Vacancy
San Francisco, CA – Today, Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF) 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 over 30,000 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 BALIF, the signatories to the letter include the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Alameda Country Bar Association, the Lake County Bar Association, the Yolo County Bar Association, and over a dozen other statewide and local bar associations. California State Bar President David Pasternak also signed on to the letter in his individual capacity.
Commenting on the decision to join forces with other bar associations in this effort, BALIF Co-Chair Jessica Bogo said, “BALIF stands with tens of thousands of California lawyers in calling on our nation’s elected officials to fulfill their constitutionally required duties to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.” BALIF is the nation's oldest and largest association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons in the field of law. BALIF’s decision to join in the letter was taken after a vote of the members of its governing board on March 4, 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.”