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house Bill H.R. 1663

Should the Federal Bar Association’s Charter be Revised?

Argument in favor

The Federal Bar Association’s (FBA) federal charter isn’t flexible enough to allow the FBA to pursue all of its organizational priorities. Updating and revising the charter to give the FBA more flexibility and discretion will help it be more effective.

Argument opposed

The Federal Bar Association (FBA) is already the primary bar association for judges and attorneys involved in federal law. Clearly, it’s already effective enough without any updates to its charter. Congress should focus on other, more important, problems instead of trying to fix what isn’t broken.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Immigration and Citizenship
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedMarch 11th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1663?

This bill — the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association Charter Amendments Act of 2019 — would revise the federal charter for the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association to give it greater flexibility in its operations. A breakdown of its provisions can be found below.

Specifically, it would:

  • Eliminate the provision that requires the foundation to be incorporated and domiciled in the District of Columbia;
  • Require the board of directors to decide, and specify in the bylaws, the location of the principal office;
  • Specify that the bylaws — not the charter — must provide for the terms of membership, the responsibilities of the board of directors, and the election of officers;
  • Prohibit a director or officer from contributing to, supporting, or participating in political activities in their corporate capacity;
  • Allow the corporation’s income and assets to be used to reasonably compensate or reimburse officers’, directors’, or members’ expenses; to award a grant to the Federal Bar Association chapter of an officer, director, or member; and to reasonably compensate employees; 
  • Expand a prohibition on loans for directors and officers to include members and employees; and 
  • Specify that on dissolution or final liquidation, any remaining assets must be distributed as provided by the board of directors instead of deposited in the Treasury.

Impact

Foundation of the Federal Bar Association (FBA); Congress; and the federal charter for the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association (FBA).

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1663

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced this bill to update the federal charter for the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association. 

The Federal Bar Association expressed support for this bill in the 115th Congress, writing to the House Judiciary Committee: 

“We] wholeheartedly endorse [this bill], [which] would provide for technical changes to the federal charter of the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association . . . .  The technical amendments embodied in [this bill] will provide reasonable and necessary flexibility to the Foundation to assist in the governance and management of the Foundation’s affairs.  Under the legislation, the mission of the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association will remain unchanged in the promotion and support of legal research and education concerning the federal administration of justice, the advancement of the science of jurisprudence, and the fostering of improvements in the practice of federal law. …  Since 1954, and especially over the past two decades, the Foundation has devoted significant effort toward the enlargement of its educational and charitable programs, including the creation of a Fellows program, support of academic and legal scholarship, creation of donor advised funds, establishment of assistance funds for the victims of terrorism and natural disasters, creation of scholarship programs for law students and the children of federal attorneys [and] grant assistance for Federal Bar Association chapters conducting pro bono and other community service projects . . .   These wide-ranging efforts have been successful, but also have exposed the limitations of the Foundation’s 1954 charter, particularly with respect to eligibility for membership [and] governance of the Foundation . . . . The technical corrections . . . would address these concerns and provide greater flexibility to the Foundation in a fashion similar to the authority and privileges enjoyed by other . . . organizations federally chartered by Congress.”

This legislation has one cosponsor, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, it passed the House by voice vote but didn’t receive a Senate vote.


Of NoteThe Federal Bar Association (FBA) is the primary professional organization for private and government lawyers and judges practicing and sitting in U.S. federal courts. It was founded in 1920 and seeks to serve as a catalyst for communication between the bar and the bench, as well as the private and public sectors.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Zolnierek)

AKA

Foundation of the Federal Bar Association Charter Amendments Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend title 36, United States Code, to revise the Federal charter for the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association.

    I hate the idea of giving any lawyers in any organization more flexibility to do anything. Our society is dominated by lawyers, our government is dominated by lawyers. That is why legislators are so good at arguing either side of an issue depending upon how it suits them. That is why we are one of the most litigious society’s and we have extremely high per capita incarceration rates. That is why we have more personal injury lawyers than doctors (open the yellow pages in any city and count the listings for each) - and why we have to have such ridiculous notices on products akin to plastic bags warnings like ‘do not sleep with bag over your nose’. Sorry lawyers, I know many of you do very good things for our society- but there are also many opportunists that enrich themselves with their tools and connections to the detriment of our society.
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    If there is a case to be made to pass this legislation, it wasn’t made well enough for me to support it.
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    Looks like a take over by the Heritage Foundation.
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    Lawyers need more regulation and oversight to protect the rest of our citizens from abuse.
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