No matter whether you like the feel of our new season or not: lean into the wind and defend the rule of law.
As I write this in very early December, the weather has turned. The cold winds of November have brought a bracing change to our landscape. Today it snowed. We can’t yet know whether our winter will be harsh and long or mild and short – but the early signs are cause for some concern.
The seasonal change also causes me to reflect on our social environment. The other gales of November broke a lot of branches in the body politic. They may also have cleared out some underbrush and introduced some fresh air. It’s too early to tell, just as it’s too early to know whether the waves generated by those political winds will recede or proliferate – or be met violently by storms coming from other directions.
We have long fancied our civil society to be the best and strongest ever achieved. But our society, as a human construct, is not impervious to the gales and tides of ideology and politics, not to mention all the other assorted human failings. And this is where we lawyers come in. The foundation and framework of American civil society is the rule of law. The rule of law protects us all, the mighty and the meek. Ultimately, it protects us from each other, by binding us together under the ideal of equal justice.
By the oath we took, lawyers are the champions and defenders of the rule of law as embodied in our constitutions. If we are not that – all of us – then we are just tradesmen. We won’t always agree about how the foundation should be formed, or how, if it cracks, it should be repaired. But that’s alright. Just as we hold that legal advocacy on all sides of a case ferrets out the truth, I believe such advocacy in defense of the rule of law is the best path to a stronger, fairer, better society.
So I have a request for all my colleagues in the profession, no matter whether you like the feel of our new season or not: button your coats, and lean into the wind.