Reviewing the ABAW’s accomplishments and ongoing work as an organization during the past few years, it became clear that we needed to establish a more systematic way to address emergent crises faced by our members and the broader Asian and Pacific Islander community in Washington. It was also clear that we needed a means of responding to the many requests each ABAW Board member gets for the ABAW to become involved in various issues, from litigation to sponsorships and direct services. Therefore, at its planning retreat in January, the Board established a Rapid Response Committee (“RRC”), intended to function as a clearinghouse for issues that require the ABAW’s response, and which are too urgent to wait for the next Board meeting.
The purpose of the RRC is to ensure timely and meaningful responses to such requests and crises, to seek full consideration at the appropriate meeting of the Board, and to alert the ABAW President when an interim Board action is necessary before the next regular meeting. Where the Board or appropriate Board subcommittee decides to take action, the RRC will seek resources for projects that require active involvement by ABAW members, or work with the President to delegate tasks if the matter falls within the purview of an already established committee of the Board.
In the past, the ABAW has received requests to become involved in a broad range of issues affecting our community. Some situations have directly affected our members, such as the murder of Bellevue attorney Kevin Jung. Others matters have involved issues affecting our community as a minority group or have been related to discrimination that we historically faced in this country—for example, requests for the ABAW to join as an amicus in anti-discrimination cases. In 2004, plaintiffs in the Andersen v. Sims case asked ABAW to submit an amicus brief in the Washington Supreme Court review of their attempt to establish for same-sex couples in Washington state a right to marry the person of their choice —a right historically denied to some Asian immigrants in this country. A year earlier, the ABAW submitted another amicus to the state Supreme Court in the Katare v. Katare case, criticizing the restriction of a South Asian father’s visitation rights with his biracial children based on his national origin, and the resulting limitation of their exposure to their father’s family and Indian culture. In each of these instances, the ABAW had a role to play, but the process of reaching a decision on whether or not to participate was complicated by the lack of a standing committee to gather the necessary information and then work with the President to seek Board action. We hope that the RRC proves effective in streamlining that process.
In the case of requests for the ABAW to become involved as an amicus, specifically, the RRC will first screen all requests to determine whether they are prima facie appropriate for ABAW involvement. If so, the RRC will undertake a more detailed review, and will make a recommendation to the Board as to whether the ABAW should submit or sign on to an amicus brief. The Board may approve the request, in which case the RRC will work to find ABAW members to draft the brief, or the President may, in his or her discretion, submit the issue to the Board for further review.
The RRC is not intended to serve as the sole means of seeking ABAW action on issues—the more traditional route of putting an issue on the agenda for a regular Board meeting will still be open to all members. Instead, the RRC will facilitate timely action on urgent issues, while also relieving the President of some of the burden of responding to the many requests that he or she receives as the most visible face of the ABAW. Accordingly, committee members of the RRC will not actually respond directly to most requests—they will simply vet them and make a recommendation for ABAW action to the President, and will work to find the appropriate ABAW members to formulate an actual response. As we gain experience with the process, we are hopeful that we can iron out bugs to ensure that it serves the ABAW’s best interests.
Volunteer to Serve on the RRC
Interested ABAW members are invited to serve on the RRC—it’s a great way to become familiar with the workings of our bar association, and to delve directly into the substantive issues that matter to our community. If you are interested in serving on the RRC, or if you have suggestions as to how it should operate, please contact us via our Contact Form. We hope that the RRC becomes another great way for the ABAW to serve its members!
RRC Amicus Briefs
Read an amicus brief submitted in party by the ABAW regarding: