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A Message from Dean Michael T. Cahill: Defending the Rule of Law

01/07/2021

There is a word for efforts to undermine or disrupt governmental order, or pursue a political agenda, through acts of intimidation or violence. That word is “terrorism.” Yesterday, terrorism—let us call it by its name—shook our capital and our nation. It was and remains chilling; but perhaps most chillingly, unlike other terrible incidents of domestic terrorism in my lifetime, it was not entirely sudden or unforeseeable. In recent weeks, we have witnessed a series of what may accurately, though figuratively, be called assaults on our democracy using various means, including the legal system, to sow disinformation, doubt, and chaos. Yesterday, the assault became literal.

Thanks to the collective effort of many patriotic and brave individuals, of both political parties—including, crucially, lawyers and judges—our legal and political institutions have withstood and repelled those assaults. So far. But these past weeks, and particularly this past day, are a reminder that the rule of law requires constant and active defense. As citizens and as lawyers, we are charged with aiding in that defense, and with promoting a culture of civil discourse that facilitates robust and informed deliberation, disagreement, and dissent without enmity or rancor. Our work continues; our dedication must not waver.

 

Michael T. Cahill
President, Joseph Crea Dean & Professor of Law