NATIONAL BLACK LAW STUDENTS ASSOCIATION 1225 11th Street NW * Washington, D.C. 20001-4217 * (202) 842-3900 CONSTITUTION ARTICLE I – NAME The name of this association is the National Black Law Students Association, Incorporated (“NBLSA”). ARTICLE II - PURPOSE The purpose of NBLSA is to utilize the collective resources of the member chapters to: • articulate and promote the educational, professional, political, and social needs and goals of Black law Students; • foster and encourage professional competence; • improve the relationship between Black law students, Black attorneys, and the American legal structure; • instill in the Black attorney and law student a greater awareness and commitment to the needs of the Black community; • influence the legal community by bringing about meaningful legal and political change that addresses the needs and concerns of the Black community; • adopt and implement policies of economic independence; • encourage Black law students to pursue careers in the judiciary; and • do all things necessary and appropriate to accomplish these purposes.
ARTICLE III – MEMBERSHIP Section 1
General membership may consist of all matriculated law students or an “at large” chapter that is not conjoined with an American member law school, but that is recognized by NBLSA to be entitled to all rights and privileges of NBLSA defined herein. Individuals of the general membership are committed to the purpose of NBLSA as stated in Article II of this Constitution. Section 2 Members will be recognized at the local, regional, and national chapter levels. If an individual is a member of a local chapter, he/she will be recognized by the region as described in subsection B and also as a member at the national level:
Chapter Membership: Chapter membership shall consist of: (1) any American law school whose petition is approved by the National Executive Board for admittance, or (2) any law student in the same locale whose petition is approved by the National Executive Board for admittance. 1. Active Membership: Active membership in NBLSA consists of all member chapters that have: a. fulfilled its financial obligations for that fiscal year; and b. Submitted the necessary paperwork to determine the number of affiliated members in its chapter. Upon meeting its financial obligations, and submitting the necessary paperwork, a chapter is entitled to all privileges of NBLSA defined herein. 2. Inactive Membership: Inactive membership consists of any chapter that does not fulfill the requirement of Article III, Section 2(A) (1) of this Constitution.
Regional Membership: Regional membership shall consist of six geographical areas to be designated as follows: Western, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Rocky Mountain, and Southern. Regional membership will be recognized where a petition of a proposed region, consisting of any chapter, group of chapters, or any law student in the same locale, is approved for admittance by the National Executive Board. 1. The Western Region shall be composed of the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. 2. The Mid-Atlantic Region shall be composed of the following states: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey (southern), Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. 3. The Midwest Region shall be composed of the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Kansas, Kentucky and Wisconsin. 4. The Northeast Region shall be composed of the following states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey (northern), New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. 5. The Rocky Mountain Region shall be composed of the following states: Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. 6. The Southern Region shall be composed of the following states and territories: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Puerto Rico.
Associate Membership: Associate membership in NBLSA is limited to law graduates and designated members of associate organizations. Associate organizations are those organizations listed in Article 2, Section 2(A) (7) of the Bylaws, and other organizations that promote the black lawyer and law student, as determined by the National Executive Board.
Honorary Membership: Honorary membership may be extended to any person nominated by the general membership and approved by a simple majority vote of the National Executive Board.
College Student Division: The composition of NBLSA is to include a Pre-law student division as a sub-section entitled the College Student Division (â€œCSDâ€?). The CSD is to serve solely as a liaison program between the prospective law students and active NBLSA members in good standing. Section 3
Nondiscrimination Clause: NBLSA will not discriminate against an individual or group on the basis of sex, race, religion, ethnic group, age, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, or country of abode. Section 4 Rights of Membership: Only general members of Active chapters shall have the right to serve as a delegate, the right to hold national office, the right to hold regional office, the right to compete in all NBLSA sponsored competitions, and shall generally be entitled to all the rights and privileges of NBLSA as defined herein. A. Associate members may participate in all activities of NBLSA, except those enumerated in this section,
and may further participate as non-voting members in those activities. B. Honorary members may enjoy the same rights as Associate members. C. CSD members may enjoy the same rights as associate and honorary members, and may also participate in job fairs, TMMTC Competition, and FDMCC Competition. A CSD member may only run for a position described in the CSD Bylaws. Section 5 Duties of Membership: Regular participation in the activities of NBLSA is incumbent upon each member chapter. ARTICLE IV â€“ ORGANIZATION Regional chapters of NBLSA will be organized as described in Article III, Section 2(B) of this Constitution.
ARTICLE V â€“ ADMINISTRATION Section 1 Persons eligible to hold an office on the National Executive Board of NBLSA must be a member of an active chapter of NBLSA. Section 2 There will be a National Executive Board of NBLSA that will consist of the following: a) National Chair b) National Vice-Chair c) National Secretary d) National Treasurer e) National Director of the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition f) National Director of the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition g) National Director of Community Service h) National Director of Programming i) Attorney General j) Six (6) Regional Chairs k) Appointed Officers Section 3 These officers must perform duties prescribed by the National Bylaws and by the parliamentary authority adopted by NBLSA. Section 4 The National Executive Board will: a) have general power to administer any and all programs, business projects, and matters pertaining to or concerning NBLSA, b) determine all questions of policy and procedure, and must administer the affairs of NBLSA under the Constitution and Bylaws of NBLSA, c) be subject to the orders of the membership; none of its acts can conflict with decisions made by the vote of the general assembly or the goals and objectives of NBLSA, d) make recommendations, e) have the power to create staff positions and committees as necessary to carry out the business of NBLSA, f) make decisions at a duly called meeting at which there is quorum, g) have the power to discipline any officer pursuant to Article XII of this Constitution, h) set the date, location, and agenda of the National Convention, and i) coordinate all nationally mandated activities at all levels of NBLSA.
Section 5 Board Approval: Board approval is defined as an affirmative, simple majority vote by the National Executive Board. Section 6 Should the office of the National Chair become vacant, the National Vice-Chair will fill the unexpired term. Should the office of Regional Chair become vacant, the Region will fill the position according to the Region’s Bylaws. Should any National office other than the National or Regional Chair become vacant, the unexpired term will be filled by appointment by the National Chair, subject to approval by the National Executive Board. Section 7 Election of Officers: A. National Officers: The National Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Director of the Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition, Director of the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition, Director of Community Service, Director of Programming, and Attorney General must be elected by a majority of the voting delegates at the National Convention. Such election will be coordinated by the National Elections Committee. B. Regional Chairs: One Regional Chair must be elected for each Region as described in Article III, Section 2(B) of this Constitution. Election must be by a vote of a Regions respective membership, and must be coordinated by a Regional Elections Committee. Section 8 Appointments to National Offices: The National Executive Board will appoint an Elections Committee to compile and disseminate documents and procedures to members seeking office. The Elections Committee is charged with coordinating the election at the National Convention. Section 9 Terms of Office: The elected officers of NBLSA will hold office for a term of one (1) year to begin on April 1 st and end on March 31st of the following year. ARTICLE VI – MEETINGS Section 1 National Executive Board Meetings: A. In addition to the National Convention, the Board must conduct a minimum of four (4) annual business meetings. B. Officers are required to attend, or send a representative to, every Board meeting. Officers who do not attend and do not send a representative must show good cause for their absence. Good cause will be determined by a simple majority vote of the National Executive Board. C. Minutes of the meetings of the National Executive Board must be made available, upon request, to any Region, local chapter, or chapter member. Section 2 National Convention: The Board shall convene a meeting each spring, which shall be known as the National Black Law Students Association National Convention (“National Convention”). The National Convention must not convene during the specified time allocated for the Spring Multi-State Professional Responsibility Exam.
ARTICLE VII – COMMITTEES Section 1 A. The Standing Committees of NBLSA will be the: a. Constitution and Bylaws Committee b. Convention Committee c. Membership Committee d. Elections Committee e. Grievance Committee f. International Committee g. Education Committee h. College Student Division Committee i. Finance Committee B. The National Chair, upon approval by the Board, can create any other committee necessary for the carrying on of NBLSA’s objectives. C. The Board may delegate such appointive powers as necessary to facilitate both the organization and the operation of a committee. D. Standing committees of NBLSA will also consist of Regional Representatives from the Regional Executive Boards. Regional Board members with substantially similar titles and or job responsibilities will serve on national committees with their national counterpart. The national board member will chair these standing committees. Regional Chairs may appoint another officer to attend National committee meetings in the place of the titled person. ARTICLE VIII – REGIONS Section 1
Each Region must have an executive board consisting of a Regional Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Director of Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition, Director of Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition, Director of Community Service, Director of Programming, Attorney General, and SubRegional Directors. Section 2 Regional executive boards will serve as liaisons between its chapters and the National Executive Board and must carry out the objectives of NBLSA. Section 3 Regional officers and their duties will be defined by each Region’s Bylaws in accordance with the rules and regulations of NBLSA as defined in the National Constitution and Bylaws. The duties of Regional officers must be parallel to their National counterparts. ARTICLE IX – FINANCIAL AFFAIRS Section 1 To constitute active membership, as stated in Article III, Section 2(A) (i) of this Constitution, each chapter must remit payment of dues to the National Treasurer not later than the first of November of each year. The amount of the dues required of each chapter, and the rules governing payment, are to be determined by Article IX, Section 2 below. Section 2
Dues: All local chapters must pay dues pursuant to Article IX, Section 1 of this Constitution. The National Board will: A. determine the amount of National dues, B. set a uniform Regional dues structure applicable to every Region, C. remit a check to every Region for the portion of the dues that Nationals has collected once every two weeks. The National Treasurer will be relieved of this duty as of the last week in November. The National Treasurer will resume this bi-weekly payment schedule during the first week in January, and D. submit a list of new chapters that have paid their dues upon request by a Regional officer. Section 3 Registration Fee: Each chapter in attendance at the National Convention must register and remit registration fees for each chapter delegate attending the National Convention. The amount of the registration fee and the rules governing payment are to be submitted by the National Convention Coordinator and proposed to the National Executive Board for approval. Section 4 Charter Fee: There must be a charter fee paid to NBLSA at the time of the charter application. The Board may waive this requirement in cases of extremely extenuating circumstances. The procedure for chartering chapters is as follows: a. Upon request, the Board must send a copy of the NBLSA Constitution and Bylaws, along with a charter application, to the prospective chapter. b. Upon receipt of a completed and signed charter application, the application must be approved pursuant to Article III, Section 2(B) of this Constitution. c. Upon approval, the Board, through an approved representative, will issue a Certificate of Charter. Section 5 Competitions Entry Fee: The National Treasurer may remit up to fifty percent (50%) of the competitions entry fees collected from each Region for the costs of administration of the regional competitions. Section 6 Final Report: A final full disclosure of all funds received and disbursed within any given fiscal year, including those received and disbursed at the National Convention, must be disseminated by the Board to all chapters prior to the first regularly scheduled Board meeting of the newly elected officers. Section 7 Financial Report: A financial report of money in the National Treasury must be made by the Board to the General Assembly at the National Convention. The financial records of NBLSA must be submitted annually to a certified public accountant for audit immediately after the first regularly scheduled Board meeting. This inspection report shall be completed within the first sixty (60) days of the new fiscal year. ARTICLE X â€“ FISCAL YEAR The fiscal year of NBLSA is to extend from April 1 st of the present year to March 31st of the following year. ARTICLE XI - VOTING Section 1 Each chapter should be represented at the Regional and National Conventions in accordance with the number of
members in the chapter. Under no circumstances will a chapter’s number of votes be less than one (1) or more than five (5). A chapter’s votes are determined as follows: A. Chapters with ten (10) members or less will have one (1) vote; B. Chapters with more than ten (10), but less than twenty-five (25) members will have two (2) votes; C. Chapters with twenty-five (25), but less than fifty (50) members will have three (3) votes; D. Chapters with fifty (50), but less than seventy-five (75) members will have four (4) votes; E. Chapters with seventy-five (75) or more members will have five (5) votes; and Section 2 Proxy: Each chapter giving its proxy must comply with the following provisions: A. The chapter must be in good financial standing with NBLSA. B. The chapter’s voting delegates must be registered for the National Convention in accordance with Article XI, Section 1 to this Constitution. C. The chapter must present a written proxy to be certified by the National Recording Secretary. ARTICLE XII – DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS Section 1
NBLSA is empowered to make and enforce its own rules and to require that its members and officers refrain from conduct injurious to NBLSA or its purposes. The Board will have the power to censure its members, staff persons and committee members. Enforcement of any disciplinary action is pursuant to Article V, Section 4(g) of this Constitution. Section 2 National Board Removal: A. A National Executive Board member may be expelled, suspended, or otherwise removed from office after due process in accordance with the provisions of the Bylaws by an affirmative vote of no less than two-thirds (2/3) of the National Executive Board. The Presiding officer at the meeting will require a secret ballot vote for any proposed adverse action. B. Notice of expulsion, suspension, or removal will be given to the Board member in writing. Any officer initiating such an action or the object of such an action must make a presentation verbally or in writing on his or her behalf and/or to select an advocate and witnesses. C. Any officer may resign at any time. Resignation must be in writing and given to the National Chair. The National Executive Board must send a written confirmation of the resignation to the resigning officer. D. All disciplinary measures must be reported by the Board to the General Assembly at the National Convention; disciplinary measures are subject to review by the General Assembly.
Section 3 Regional/Local Board Removal: Prior to taking action under Article XII, Section I, the members’ local board should consult their local bylaws, and if the local by-laws are silent, the board should hold a meeting allowing the body to discuss and vote on the actions regarding the member. Minutes should be taken at this meeting. When action is taken under this amendment, the member has the right to appeal to the next board in the hierarchy. If the member appeals to the national board, the decision of the national board is final. Consideration of an appeal should include a review of the minutes from the initial action and an attempt to converse with the member and a representative from the board that took the action.
ARTICLE XIII – PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY NBLSA is empowered to establish its rules of order through the adoption of some form of parliamentary authority. A National Parliamentarian, appointed by the National Chair and approved by the National Executive Board, will: A. be responsible for carrying out the parliamentary authority, and B. serve as a resource on parliamentary procedure. ARTICLE XIV – MANDATORY PROJECTS The following projects are mandatory: • The Annual National Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition, • The Annual National Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial Competition, • The Annual National Convention, • The Sandy Brown Memorial Scholarship, • The Robert Pulliam Scholarship, • The Nelson Mandela Scholarship, • The Annual National Convention Community Service Project, The Following projects re non-mandatory: • Adopt-a-school program, • The National Election Protection Project, • A Dean’s Roundtable, and, • The NBLSA Death Penalty Moratorium Project ARTICLE XV – NBLSA DEATH PENALTY MORATORIUM PROJECT Section 1 The National Executive Board may appoint a Chair to carryout the goals of the NBLSA Moratorium Project The Association, through the National Executive Board, shall promote a moratorium on the death penalty by fostering the NBLSA Death Penalty Moratorium Project. The NBLSA Moratorium Project shall consist of: • Assisting the American Bar Association Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project ("ABA"); • Encouraging and assisting associations, organizations, or movements to educate the public or advance the moratorium movement in their jurisdictions; • Encouraging state government leaders to establish moratoriums and/or undertake detailed examinations of capital punishment laws and processes in their jurisdictions; • Calling upon each jurisdiction that imposes capital punishment to implement a moratorium until the jurisdiction enacts policies and procedures that are consistent with the ABA policies which intend to (1) ensure that death penalty cases are administered fairly and impartially, in accordance with due process, and (2) minimize the risk that innocent persons may be executed; and • Striving to eliminate discrimination in capital sentencing on the basis of race of either the victim or the defendant. Section 2
The National Executive Board may appoint a Chair to carryout the goals of the NBLSA Moratorium Project. ARTICLE XVI - BYLAWS
Section 1 The Bylaws of NBLSA must be approved by: • Simple majority vote of the delegates attending the Plenary Sessions at the Annual National Convention; or, in extenuating circumstances, • a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the National Executive Board, subject to review by the active membership of NBLSA. The National Executive Board must publicize the need to make the change and create an amendment to the Bylaws prior to acting; results of the Board’s actions must be publicized. Section 2 The National Executive Board has the authority to make grammatical, non-substantive changes to the NBLSA Constitution and Bylaws.
ARTICLE XVII – SUPREMACY CLAUSE Section 1
Any provision of the NBLSA Constitution and Bylaws, any action of the National Executive Board collectively or individually, and any measure adopted by the National Convention Assembly will supersede any governing document, rule, policy, practice, or procedure passed by any Region (or chapter) of NBLSA. ARTICLE XVIII – AMENDMENTS Section 1 The Constitution of NBLSA must be adopted by a simple majority vote of the General Assembly at the National Convention. Section 2 Amendments to these Constitution and/or Bylaws may be proposed by: •1 a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the National Executive Board; or •2 a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the National Constitution and Bylaws Committee; or •3 a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the delegates at a Regional Convention. Section 3 Proposed amendments must be submitted in written form to the National Constitution and Bylaws Committee who will then present the proposed amendments to the National Executive Board for review. The proposal must be clearly stated and justified. Section 4 Constitutional amendments must be passed at the Annual National Convention Plenary Session(s) upon receiving a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the General Assembly. Any provision of the NBLSA Constitution and Bylaws, any action of the National Executive Board collectively or individually, and any measure adopted by the National Convention Assembly will supersede any governing document, rule, policy, practice, or procedure passed by any Region of NBLSA.
ARTICLE XIX â€“ RATIFICATION
Unless an alternative date is specified therein, the Constitution and Bylaws, and any passed amendments of NBLSA become effective immediately upon ratification. Ratification will occur upon two-thirds (2/3) affirmative vote of the delegates present or by proxy at the Annual National Convention of NBLSA.
Amended March 2009