U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy today called the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in Kaanapali a "prudent and proper exercise of the judicial function."
"I am immensely proud to be here with you," he said during his remarks to the opening session of the conference, drawing an applause from several hundred lawyers, court staff and guests, a news release from the 9th Circuit said.
The conference at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa has come under fire from Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions and Charles Grassley, who have been critical of the circuit's conferences, which they say are expensive affairs in the midst of government budget cuts. They have called for the Maui conference to be canceled or at least scaled back.
Kennedy stressed the importance of the conference in providing continuing legal education for judges and facilitating governance of the circuit.
"It is a characteristic of the American people that in every profession and every calling, they pride themselves on continuing education," he said, adding that judges, lawyers and law professors all know that as "we enter each stage of our profession, that's not when learning ends, that's when learning begins."
The judicial conference runs from today to Thursday.