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Democracy under threat, US lawyers told

10 Aug 2023 / global news Print

Democracy under threat, US lawyers told

The new president of the American Bar Association (ABA) has announced that the lawyers’ organisation is setting up a Task Force for American Democracy.

Mary Smith told the association’s annual meeting that the new group would “consider and propose solutions for educating our citizens on the importance of an inclusive, strong and enduring democracy, and help to provide bulwarks to bolster our democracy as conceived”.

The task force is to be co-chaired by former federal judge J Michael Luttig and former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson.

“To be blunt, the very core of our society – our commitment to democracy – is under threat,” Smith said. “It seems every day, assaults on the constitution and the rule of law attack the legitimacy of the instruments of our law and democracy, eroding our dedication to them.”

The group will focus on:

  • Depoliticising the administration of elections,
  • Educating the public on the principles of democracy and “driving ownership of those principles into the American culture”, and
  • Identifying and advancing improvements and innovations in election systems to “address the root causes of the current politicisation and lack of trust in our elections and in our democracy”.

Recommendations on AI

Smith, who succeeded Deborah Enix-Ross at the gathering in Denver, also spoke about the far-reaching effects of generative artificial intelligence (AI).

She told delegates that the technology would challenge democracy and called on lawyers to “harness both the promise – and the peril – of AI”.

The ABA president also announced the formation of another task force to look at AI, and make recommendations on the impact on the practice of law, access to justice and laws and regulations.

Gazette Desk
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