June 28, 2021
Editorial credit: Win Mcnamee/Pool/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
As American lawyers, we’re deeply concerned about protecting the democratic institutions and principles that have enabled America to be the world’s preeminent beacon of freedom and opportunity.
As lawyers, we have the responsibility to defend the underlying constitutional values and norms of political behavior on which our democracy depends. These core values and principles include: the rule of law; institutional checks and balances; separation of powers; press freedom; truthfulness to the public; and the integrity of our system of justice.
Accordingly, we, as lawyers, cannot ignore or remain silent about President Donald Trump’s disregard of these core values and principles. We must speak out.
Yet, we recognize that elections have consequences. This effort to energize and mobilize our legal profession is emphatically NOT about disagreements over Republican or Democratic policies, liberal or conservative ideology, or political party advantage. The values and principles threatened here go much deeper, and are much more important than politics, policy differences and any politician’s self-interest. They’re the bedrock of our American, constitutional, democratic form of government.
Specifically, we call on the President to respect and honor the following fundamental principles and norms of American democracy.
An independent and watchful mainstream media is, and always has been, an essential component of American democracy.
The independence, integrity, competence and nonpartisanship of our judiciary is, and from the founding of our Nation has been, a central pillar of our democratic system.
Our democracy is built on trust and telling the people the truth about public matters; the maintenance of that trust and Americans’ ability to make informed and rational public decisions require our leaders to provide honest, factual information to us all.
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Nonpartisan independence, integrity and competence are critical to the fairness of our federal criminal justice system and intelligence agencies.
Civil discourse and fair treatment, including respect for the rights and dignity of all individuals, is an essential ingredient of American democracy.
The President’s attacks on these core American democratic principles undermine the foundations of our Constitution and threaten the rule of law.
Unless challenged and checked, this pattern of disregard weakens the norms that underpin American self-government and invites unfettered Executive power – transforming the United States from a democracy to an autocracy.
As members of the legal profession, pledged to support the rule of law and the constitutional separation of powers, we must not allow this to happen.
Fortunately, a group of prominent conservative lawyers has recently spoken out on many of these same issues through a new organization, “Checks and Balances.” Now, other members of the bar must no longer remain silent.
We call on the leaders of America’s bar associations, law schools, law firms and fellow lawyers nationwide to speak out, on a nonpartisan basis, against these attacks on the core of our democratic constitutional form of government.
As lawyers, we have a responsibility to uphold “the rule of law” and prevent “the law of rulers.” Wherever you live and work – in cities, towns, rural areas, suburbs – American democracy needs to hear your voice.
Last updated March 2019