Despite American Airlines flight cancellations, suspicious packages in a U.S. Senate office building and a series of gun control legislation votes this week, the American Bar Association's annual lobbying spree in Washington went on.
A group of 360 ABA members from all 50 states came to D.C. for the group's annual ABA Day, which included trips to Capitol Hill on Wednesday and Thursday. The lawyers urged members of Congress to quickly fill empty seats in the federal judiciary and support increased funding for federal courts and the Legal Services Corp., the largest civil legal aid provider in the United States.
Thomas Susman, the ABA's governmental affairs director, said there's "really no substitute for face to face" contact between ABA members and policymakers.
"Everyone seemed to think it went extremely well," he said.
The group also is asking lawmakers to give the federal judiciary at least the $7 billion the courts initially received in fiscal 2013. Through sequestration, the judiciary's fiscal 2013 budget dropped by $350 million.
With vacancies affecting 10 percent of federal judgeships, the ABA told senators that promptly approving judicial nominations is important, too.
In a blog post The Hill published on Wednesday, ABA President Laurel Bellows wrote that "collaboration and compromise" is needed in the Senate to pass nominees.
"The judicial appointment process has been broken for two decades," Bellows wrote. "Through the first two centuries of our republic, the Senate was renowned as the world’s greatest deliberative body, the home of lawmakers and statespeople who understood not only the impact of soaring rhetoric but also the value of collaboration and compromise."
The ABA last year spent $1 million on federal lobbying, according to congressional records.