Oct 03, 2019
Been Through the Fire Before
Oct 03, 2019
By Charles Dresow
Our Constitution is an aspirational document, seeking to protect ideals of our human rights and liberties. As the political dialogue of our country devolves into name calling and disorder, our Constitution provides not only guidance but something more important: Hope.
Hope that our country and its institutions will not just endure, but evolve in a positive direction. Our Constitution was born out of revolution, tested in wars, and evolved through amendments that recognized changing times and values. At its core, our Constitution has granted liberties, ensured a democratic form of government and protected individual freedoms. The government it has created is a government of laws. It is not a government of one, or even of many. It is of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a government that reflects our Constitutional values and ensures the freedoms enshrined therein.
Johnny Cash’s Ragged Old Flag, although written about our flag, contains a stanza equally applicable to our Constitution:
And the government for which she stands
Has been scandalized throughout out the land.
And she's getting threadbare, and she's wearin' thin,
But she's in good shape, for the shape she's in.
Cause she's been through the fire before
and I believe she can take a whole lot more.
As lawyers, we swear an oath to protect our Constitution. It is our duty to ensure that our Constitutional principles endure through this troubling time of discord. We can do this by continuing to do our jobs to the best of our ability. We can do this by representing our clients and causes vigorously, but with civility. As political tensions and societal controversies escalate, we as lawyers must make an effort to be stabilizing and calming forces for our clients and causes. Our profession assisted in the drafting of our Constitution. It has been critical to its evolution. It is essential to its power. We can demonstrate that the system still works during our current stormy cultural and political climate.
Paramount to this demonstration is representing our clients and causes with civility in the face of the virulent, aggressive and sometimes insulting brand of discourse populating our national politics. We can be the calming force that teaches others that disputes can be handled with equanimity and respect for the other side. In the face of scorched earth tactics, we have an opportunity to be the teachers of respectful dispute resolution.
Charles Dresow is a partner at Ragghianti Freitas LLP and is the MCBA President for 2019. His practice focuses on representing those accused of crimes.