Fighting for the American Constitution important goal, says Neal Katyal at South Asian legal organization’s annual meet


Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, a leading Indian-American attorney who has argued landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court including the travel ban in Trump v Hawaii, urged lawyers to protect the American Constitution.

Leading Indian-American attorney Neal Katyal, speaking June 23, 2019, at the concluding session of the South Asian Bar Association of North America’s 16th Annual Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia, June 20-23. (Photo: courtesy SABA)

“I do think the fight is important, even if we lose sometimes.  We must fight for the Constitution,” Katyal said in his keynote speech at the South Asian Bar Association of North America’s 16th Annual Conference held in Atlanta June 20-23.

Katyal was speaking at the closing Annual Gala where he recounted a history of injustices facing minorities in the United States, from Japanese internment during World War II to the current conditions of detention facilities holding migrants at the southern border, a press release from SABA said.  Katyal also recounted his experience successfully defending a Guantanamo detainee in his first Supreme Court argument in 2006; he has since gone on to argue before the Court more than any minority attorney, breaking a record held by Thurgood Marshall.

The theme of this year’s SABA Annual Conference was “Rise Up and Represent,” and it kicked off with a Welcome Reception at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, featuring remarks by  U.S. Magistrate Judge for Northern District of Georgia Justin Anand;  U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia BJay Pak; and Darrell Sutton, president of the State Bar of Georgia.

Judge Anand commended SABA for its growth over sixteen years, and is quoted in the press release saying, “my being [on the bench] today is a testament to this organization” and its members’ rise through the legal ranks.

United States Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, participated in a Fireside Chat June 21, with his colleague and friend, Anil Mujumdar, about his long career as a defender of civil rights, his plans for the future, the importance of bipartisanship and the benefits of diversity and inclusion.

During the conference, the organization introduced SABA Wellness, a program that emphasizes lawyer well-being through healthful activities such as a Fun Run and Yoga; Another program, SABACares, was  launched with a service event supporting two past SABA Foundation grantees.  Volunteers put together back-to-school bags for the children of clients of GAIN, and tea and spice packets for Raksha, a Georgia-based non-profit.

Well known members of the South Asian legal community including judges, law firm leaders, in-house counsel, and lawyers.

In one of the panels, Judge Neomi Rao, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, “judged” her former SCOTUS Review co-panelists Kannon Shanmugam of Paul, Weiss; Pratik Shah of Akin Gump; Kirti Datla of Hogan Lovells; and Tejinder Singh of Goldstein & Russell, as they discussed the Court’s eventful year.

Awardees recognized at the Conference included:

— Pioneer Award recipient Yasir Naqvi, CEO of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), who is also the former Attorney General of Ontario;

— Public Interest Achievement Award recipients: Public Defender for the City of San Francisco Manohar “Mano” Raju, and General Counsel and Director of Policy at Marin Clean Energy Shalini Swaroop. Marin is California’s first local government agency focused on renewable energy and combating climate change;

— Corporate Counsel Achievement Award recipient: Deputy General Counsel for the Global ISC and Operation Group at Honeywell Performance Materials & Technologies Sedesh “Sedi” Doobay;

— Cornerstone Award winners, Solicitor General of Florida Amit Agarwal, Shalini Goel Agarwal of the Southern Legal Poverty Center, Habib Ilahi, trial attorney at the Department of Justice and Kirtan Patel, co-founder of KPPB Law;

— Diversity Champions Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP and Nixon Peabody;

— Rising Stars Preetha Chakrabarti, law clerk for the Judge Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson at the First Circuit Court of Appeals; Rajiv Parikh, partner at Genova Burns; Viren Mascarenhas, partner at King & Spalding LLP; and Previn Warren, partner at Jenner Block;

— Program Award Recipient: The South Asian Women’s Attorney Network for their 2019 Bootcamps.

The 2019-2020 Executive Committee of the South Asian Bar Association of North America, which was sworn in by Judge Neeti Pawar of the Colorado Court of Appeals, at the SABA 16th Annual Conference held June 20-23, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo: courtesy SABA)

Judge Neeti Pawar of the Colorado Court of Appeals, swore in the new Executive Committee.  SABA’s 2019-2020 President,  Aneesh Mehta reflected on the growth of SABA, saying, “We are excited for what is going to be our busiest year ever, with a newly formed Calgary chapter, the launch of SABACares and SABA Wellness initiatives, our second Annual Naturalization Drive on November 16th, along with numerous new programs. And with the 2020 Elections and Census on the horizon, it is more important than ever for our growing South Asian community to be informed and involved.”

The SABA Foundation, which supports organizations that provide critical services to the most vulnerable members of the South Asian Community, honored actor and activist,  Maulik Pancholy, with its Hero Award for his work on bullying prevention among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth through the non-profit Act to Change.

When it comes to the stories we tell on screen and in books, “representation matters,” Pancholy is quoted as saying at the meeting, adding, “even if it seems scary, now is the time to tell your story.”

This year’s Foundation Grantees are Sakhi for South Asian Women who received a 2019 “Skills to Succeed” Grant (sponsored by Accenture) to support their Economic Empowerment Program.

General Grants went to the South Asian Legal Clinic Society of British Columbia (SALCBC); Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF); and the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN).

The newest chapter, SABA Calgary, was welcomed into the group, making it the 27th chapter in North America, and the 3rd in Canada.

The next annual SABA meeting is scheduled to be held in San Francisco next summer from June 25-28.




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