ABA Supports Federal Regulation of Consumer Financial Products, Universal Access to Quality Health Care, Civics Education

Also Urges Quality Education, Caseload Limits for Public Defenders, Human Clinical Trial Regulations, Federal Benefits for Lawfully Married Same-Sex Spouses

CHICAGO, Aug. 5, 2009—The _ House of Delegates voted to support comprehensive federal regulation of consumer financial products and services, when it met Monday and Tuesday in Chicago for the 2009 ABA Annual Meeting.

Regulation and supervision of financial products and services should be independent, have adequate and reliable funding sources to carry out functions in a simplified system that eliminates overlapping oversight and reduces the number of regulatory agencies. A separate and independent entity should regulate systemic risks, according to policy adopted Tuesday on the recommendation of the ABA Task Force on Financial Markets Regulatory Reform.

The House rejected arguments urging opposition to federal regulation of insurance, expressly stating its new policy does not address whether insurance should be regulated at the federal or state level. But it supported creation of a non regulatory insurance information office in the U.S. Treasury Department to advise federal officials on domestic and international insurance policies, carry out federal government responsibilities under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, coordinate efforts on international matters and be a liaison between the federal government and state and territorial insurance regulators.

ABA policymakers also renewed the association’s call for access for every American to quality health care, regardless of income. The House of Delegates first supported uniform access to quality health care in 1972, and has since adopted policies supporting particular systems of health care reform. The policy adopted Tuesday eliminates reference to specific payor systems, providing more flexibility for the association to participate in developing meaningful health care reform.

Delegates urged creation of a Coordinating Office of Civic Education in the U.S. Department of Education, to enhance student civic learning by offering competitive grants at every level of government to develop innovative curricula, support research and facilitate teacher education. In supporting the proposal, delegates cited a call by retired Associate Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court of the United States for an ABA push to ensure that every child understands how government functions and the systems of checks and balances and separation of powers that mark governance in the United States.

These were among 35 measures approved by the House of Delegates. Others were withdrawn, deferred or defeated. To learn action taken on all proposals presented to the House, click here.

The ABA House of Delegates comprises 555 representatives. It includes a delegate from each state, elected representatives of state and local bar associations, delegates from affiliated organizations, and delegates from ABA sections and divisions created around practice specialties or settings. There also are at-large delegates elected by association members. The House convenes twice each year to establish association policy. A 38-member board of governors convenes five times yearly to oversee implementation of policy.

Among other measures approved by the House are:

  • A call for congressional repeal of a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal marital benefits and protections to lawfully married same sex spouses
  • A series of measures addressing rights to quality public education:
    • Urging federal, state and school district governments to implement policies to secure the right of every child to a high-quality education
    • Urging national, state and local education, child welfare and juvenile justice agencies to enforce policies to advance the right to remain in school, limiting exclusion from school as a disciplinary option and reducing criminalization of school-related conduct
    • Urging enactment and implementation of statutes supporting a right of youth who leave school to return and complete their education in age appropriate programs
  • Eight Guidelines of Public Defense Related to Excessive Workloads, providing detailed action plans for public defenders and their offices when they are faced with workloads so high as to impair their ability to meet ethical requirements for competent representation
  • Support for federal legislation to direct appropriate federal departments to issue regulations providing uniform requirements to address conflicts of interest in human clinical trials.

With more than 400,000 members, the _ 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.

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