John Graham

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John Graham: Why is the American Bar Association swinging Left?

The alert but not particularly conservative Politico webzine has an interesting item “Right sees law group tilting left” by Josh Gerstein (9/25/10):

The American Bar Association, which was dogged for decades by criticism over a perceived liberal bent, is risking reigniting that debate by taking bold stands on a pair of hot-button social issues.

At its annual meeting last month in San Francisco, the nation’s largest lawyers’ group passed a formal resolution, urging every state in the union to permit same-sex marriages.

In June, the ABA took what it acknowledged was an “extraordinary action” by filing a brief urging a federal judge in Arizona to block enforcement of that state’s highly controversial law intended to crack down on illegal immigration

What is going on? Apparently what is going on is that the ABA’s new president is Stephen Zack of Miami, of whom Politico says that he

defended the group’s support for same-sex marriage and its opposition to the Arizona immigration law as part of the organization’s broad duty to defend civil rights…

The fact that the public is sharply divided on the gay marriage issue and appears to broadly support the Arizona immigration law isn’t relevant to whether the bar group should speak out on those issues, Zack insisted. “If that was the touchstone then in the 50s, we should not have taken a stand opposing segregation,” Zack said.

Evidently it is a personal matter:

Zack said his background has made him acutely aware of the danger of depriving people of their rights. “I came from Cuba in 1961. I’m the first Hispanic-American president of the American Bar Association,” he said. “I keep that experience very close to me. To me, the loss of liberty is not a theoretical exercise. It actually happened.”

Another of those socially conservative Hispanics? Well, not quite.

The preface to an article by Zack on Latina Lista (Guest Voz: First Latino President-elect of American Bar Association speaks out about civic education [November 20, 2009]) says

Mr. Zack will be the first president in the ABA’s 131-year history who happens to be both Latino and Jewish.

And Zack himself says

In the early 1900s my grandfather had come to Cuba from Russia, looking for a better life, searching for freedom, hoping for the right to practice his religion and beliefs without persecution. For many years, he found that. He raised a family, worked hard and prospered. Unfortunately, there came a time when that changed for my family in Cuba.

When I was 13, we left Cuba to come to the United States. My grandfather became a refugee for the second time, once again having to flee his home in search of that better life…

Far from being Hispanic — his family spent apparently less than 60 years in Cuba –- Stephen Zack is yet another descendant of Russian Jews working off ancestral animosities against mythical Cossacks by wrecking the societies which so unwisely gave them shelter and hospitality.

Complain to Stephen N. Zack

John Graham is the lead author of the TOO article “Is the Madoff Scandal Paradigmatic?”