HARRISBURG (April 24, 2017) — The Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Civil and Equal Rights Committee (CERC) will receive the 2017 Award for Outstanding Leadership in Diversity and Inclusion from the PBA Diversity Team. The award will be presented during the PBA Awards Breakfast on May 12 during the Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh.
Established in 2010, the PBA Diversity Team works collaboratively with PBA leadership, staff and all other PBA-related groups and entities to promote and enhance existing diversity initiatives and to assist with creating new opportunities. The award recognizes a PBA entity for outstanding efforts, contributions or service to promote diversity and inclusion in the association’s membership and for demonstrating commitment to and leadership in promoting full and equal participation in the legal profession.
CERC aims to promote and defend civil rights and responsibilities, fair treatment and equal opportunity for all individuals; it monitors actual and proposed legislation, litigation, rules of conduct and procedures, and other relevant developments in an effort to avoid and eliminate wrongful discrimination and unfair bias; it educates the legal community and the public; and it makes proposals and recommendations to advance and effect the goals of the committee.
The committee was formed in 1994, after the Civil Rights Committee, which focused on issues involving individuals in “protected classes,” combined with the Equal Rights Committee, which dealt with issues affecting women. CERC and its predecessors have been actively involved in protecting the rights of all citizens since the 1970s, when members opposed legislation that prohibited demonstrators from wearing masks in public demonstrations. More recently, members have opposed the extensive powers given to the federal government after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the racially biased imposition of the death penalty and the imposition of the death penalty on children and the mentally disabled.
From 2007-2015, CERC has presented five continuing legal education seminars addressing language access in Pennsylvania courts, the differences between federal and state constitutional rights, civil rights liability under Section 1983, civil rights preservations and protections, and civil rights in the 21st century. A new CLE on implied bias is slated for this summer.
In addition to providing educational opportunities for diverse and non-diverse attorneys, CERC has drafted 30 recommendations and resolutions over the years, many in collaboration with other PBA entities, and presented them to the PBA Board of Governors and House of Delegates. The majority of these resolutions were adopted by the PBA, furthering CERC’s commitment to the principles of improving and safeguarding the civil rights of Pennsylvanians.