Justice Kennedy Backs Maui Conference

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy countered criticism of the Maui site for this year’s 9th Circuit Judicial Conference by giving the sessions his blessing.  Kennedy’s backing comes in the face of criticism by two Republican senators who questioned spending on a conference in Maui during tough economic times.

Kennedy told attendees, “I am immensely proud to be here with you,” according to a statement published by the circuit.  He called the meeting of lawyers and judges from the western states “a prudent and a proper exercise of the judicial function.”

Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Jeff Sessions of Alabama issued a letter in June critical of the expense of a Maui conference in financially stressed times.  They asked Chief Judge Alex Kozinski why it was holding its conference at the island resort.

The court responded by pointing out the importance of the conference as an educational tool for the federal bench and bar as well as allowing the various administrative bodies, including the circuit Judicial Council, to meet and work on court policy and rules.

This didn’t mollify the senators and a round of national media criticism followed.  Although the 9th Circuit has held its judicial conference every year since 1944, Kozinski announced that it would cancel the 2013 conference set for Monterey, Calif.    The Monterey meeting will be set in 2014 instead.

Each Supreme Court justice is responsible for representing the high court at circuit gatherings.  Kennedy has attended 9th Circuit gatherings since Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired from the court.

Kennedy pointed out the conference provides important continuing legal education for judges and facilitates governance of the court, according to the circuit statement.

Past conferences have been held in Big Sky, Montana; Sun Valley, Idaho; Kauai, Hawaii, San Diego, Calif.; Portland, Ore. and Monterey, Calif., all states in the circuit.

The conference continues through the rest of the week.

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Picture source: 9th Circuit

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