President Biden Supports NYSBA Legislative Priorities in State of the Union
In his State of the Union address, President Biden addressed international and domestic issues including the crisis in the Ukraine and the need for infrastructure repair.
He also called on Congress to pass five legislative initiatives that are New York State Bar Association’s legislative priorities Voting rights, Ghost Guns, Violence Against Women Act, No-Knock Warrants and the Equality Act.
The right to vote is a fundamental value guaranteed by the United States Constitution. It establishes a benchmark for public participation and must be protected and preserved. The New York State Bar Association supports measures that increase voter participation and inclusion of all communities, prevent discriminatory voting practices and protect access to the ballot and the sanctity of the vote.
NYSBA convened a task force on Mass Shootings and Assault Weapons in an effort to understand the incidence and causes of mass shootings. Lawyers have a special role to play in addressing gun violence in America. Included in the non-partisan report is a recommendation to ban ghost guns – firearms without a serial number. Legislation on ghost guns and other firearms issues are pending in Congress.
The Violence Against Women Act has been reauthorized three times, each serving as an important opportunity for Congress to expand and enhance the tools and initiatives combating these forms of gender-based violence. The last reauthorization lapsed in 2018, leaving many critical programs unfunded. The association has called on Congress to pass this measure to enhance protections for survivors of gender-based violence.
We are at a crisis point with policing in the United States. Harmful policing practices are resulting in misconduct that disproportionately impacts Black people and a culture that allows these practices to continue unchecked. Policing needs to be brought into the 21st century by improving policing at every stage, from hiring to discipline. The association supports, among other reforms, banning no-knock warrants, as the president highlighted in his address.
The Equality Act would expand the protected category of “sex” to include “sexual orientation and gender identity” and provide additional protections within the new expanded category. It would bar discrimination in employment, public schools, housing, credit opportunities, juries, and federally funded programs on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The New York State Bar Association proudly supports this measure because “[e]very person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love” (see Section 1, 1/20/21 Biden Executive Order).
We are pleased that the president is advocating for these issues, which are important to our association and the legal profession and we hope that Congress will act on these initiatives before the end of the year.