DMI Blog

Kia Franklin

How would Holder Hold Up on Civil Justice?

Cross-posted with slight modification from TortDeform.Com


He still has to undergo the formal vetting process, but Eric Holder looks to be Obama's AG pick. So, how will Holder hold up when it comes to civil justice? On TortDeform we've talked extensively about a Pro-Civil Justice Presidential Platform, but access to justice for every American requires leadership and hard work from more than just the President. "America's lawyer" and "top cop", the Attorney General, has perhaps the most important role in advancing policies that preserve Americans' cherished legal rights and strengthen their access to effective, fair civil courts.

We must pay close attention here. As former AGs John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales taught us so well, the AG has a critical role in protecting--or subverting--our cherished constitutional rights and protections. In the coming weeks as we learn more about his positions on various issues I’ll do my best to keep you updated.

In the mean time, three quick things worth considering are: Holder's past efforts to advance equal access to justice; his ties to the progressive-leaning constitutional law group, American Constitution Society; and some insights from the balanced analysis of Glenn Greenwald at Salon. More below the fold.

First, as Deputy AG, Holder was part of an initiative to bring more diversity into the legal profession and ensure that “the profession provides full service to communities of color so that those communities can enjoy equal access to our system of justice.” This may indicate a willingness on his part to engage the civil justice community on access to justice issues like Civil Gideon and binding mandatory arbitration, among others.

Second, Holder is an influential Board Member for the American Constitution Society. ACS, while not a political organization, represents many of the progressive values that guide the access to justice movement. In fact, ACS’s Access to Justice Group “addresses barriers to access to our civil justice system, including… efforts to strip courts of jurisdiction, raise procedural hurdles, remove classes of cases from federal court, insulate wrongdoers from suit, limit remedies and deprive legal aid services of resources. It focuses attention on ways to ensure that our justice system is truly available to all.” (emph. added)

Third, probably the most helpful analysis I’ve found so far comes from Glenn Greenwald at Salon, who gives a cautious, preliminary nod of approval to the Holder pick. Greenwald weighs the known blemishes on Holder’s record (the Marc Rich pardon issue being the most frequently cited) against the shining points (independence from Obama, willingness to take strong positions in favor of constitutional rights, even if in stark contrast to the President). Greenwald concludes based on this and other information that Holder will likely be an effective protector of the American people’s constitutional rights.

For more, stop by TortDeform wher I highlight statements from Senators (Vice President-elect) Joe Biden and Patrick Leahy about the importance of the AG's role. (Hat tip to TalkLeft for these and other quotes.) I also point out what other bloggers are saying about a possible Holder appointment.

As more information emerges in the coming weeks I’ll be sure to share it and discuss what it means for the fight for civil justice.

Kia Franklin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 7:09 AM, Nov 20, 2008 in Civil Justice | Election 2008
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