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Over the past decade or more there have been strong pressures to abolish the diversity jurisdiction of the federal courts. With the strong backing of the prestigious American Law Institute and many scholars, and with the support of the Chief Justice, Senator Kennedy, and others, specific proposals have been introduced in Congress, have been discussed at enormous length, and have passed one or the other House but not both. At the moment, therefore, we still have diversity jurisdiction, and it is safe to predict that abolition of diversity will not occur during the present session of Congress. Nevertheless, the long-term pressure continues, and those who, as I, would retain diversity jurisdiction need to be continuingly alert. Moreover, we need to remind ourselves from time to time what the argument is all about, and we need to take into account any new information that may be relevant to one side of the argument or the other. The Board of Governors of the Barristers Society has taken note of the status of the attacks on diversity, and has resolved to stay abreast of them and to marshall the Society's resources in opposition to abolition in the event that the movement picks up steam again. My purpose here, then, is twofold: to review with you, and refresh your recollections about, the abolitionists' arguments and the appropriate responses to them; and to encourage you, if you agree with my assessments, to exert your influence on a sustained basis to assure the continued availability of diversity jurisdiction-influence both at the public level, explaining to the public whenever possible the importance to them of access to the federal courts in diversity cases, and, at the personal level, communicating, with whatever political clout you have, to your individual Congressmen the importance of diversity to their constituents, your clients.


Deposited with permission of the International Society of Barristers.