The Opening Assembly of the American Bar Association Annual Meeting was a celebration of unity between Canada and the United States, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer stirred the crowd at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music with calls for civility, better education and respect for the Rule of Law.
"Children of a common mother, when we come to Canada we feel at home," said ABA President Stephen N. Zack, as he opened the event on the 75th year of the ABA's House of Delegates. The House of Delegates is the association's 566-member policymaking body of elected representatives from the 50 states, the Virgin Islands and Guam, as well as local, topic-specific and at-large members. The American and Canadian bar associations had hours before signed a historic agreement to conduct joint projects and to collaborate.
Justice Breyer urged the lawyers in the audience to find a way they can contribute to society. "We want good lawyers to be in a profession and nation that reflects civility," said Justice Breyer. "We have to begin here."
He also called on lawyers to advocate for better public education and to give future U.S. citizens the information and tools they need to create a just future for themselves. "Three hundred and eight million people in the U.S. are not lawyers," he said. He stressed the need for improved education in how government and law work.
He cited past victories for the Rule of Law, such as when former U.S. President Eisenhower called in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army to protect children as they walked into a newly integrated public school in Arkansas.