CBA Record May-June 2021

PRESIDENT’S PAGE BY MARYAM AHMAD Advancing the Rule of Law Now

The Chicago Bar Association


I n 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower recognized May 1 as Law Day, to mark the role of the rule of law in the for- mation of the United States. The idea to celebrate Law Day originated with Charles Rhyne, Eisenhower’s onetime legal counsel, who served in 1957-58 as the president of the American Bar Association. Law Day provides an opportunity to understand how law and the legal process protect our liberty, help us strive to achieve justice, and con- tribute to the freedoms that all Americans share. Law Day is not just a celebration for those who work in the legal profession. Law Day promotes reflection on the role of law in our country. This year’s LawDay theme is “Advancing the Rule of LawNow.”The ABA relates that this theme should remind us that we, the people, share the responsibility to promote the rule of law, defend liberty, and pursue justice. While there are competing defini- tions about what constitutes the rule of law, several principles remain consistent. The rule of law means that no one is above the law. Taken in its broadest sense, this means that laws apply to and must be followed by everyone, regardless of position or social status. It also requires that citizens respect and comply with legal norms, even when they disagree with them. A commitment to the rule of law means that laws are just and protect the fundamen- tal rights of the individual. For instance, the Bill of Rights was passed because concepts such as freedom of religion, speech, equal treatment, prohibition against unlawful searches and seizures, and due process of law were deemed so important that, barring a Constitutional Amendment, not even a majority should be allowed to change them. The rule of law also comprises ideals such as predictable, clear, and non-arbitrary laws – meaning that laws must be open and the public adequately informed. The rule of law

also necessitates an independent judiciary. Alexander Hamilton noted in The Federal- ist #78 that courts “were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and their legislature.” Courts play an integral role in maintaining the rule of law and to ensuring equality before the law. During this time of reflection on the importance of the rule of law, one cannot help but recall the assaults and incursions upon the rule of law during this past year. When principles that form the foundation of the rule of law are violated, again, lawyers and judges must challenge those abuses; we are the defenders by oath and profession of these edicts. The rule of law is violated when a mob storms Congress and attempts to prevent the certification of the country’s presidential election. The rule of law is desecrated when a uniformed police officer kneels on the neck of an arrestee, killing him. The rule of law is breached when gov- ernment officials disregard court orders. The rule of law is infringed when some offenders are prosecuted for their crimes but politi- cally connected people are not punished for theirs. The rule of law is violated when politics, dark money, and special interests influence judicial elections, threatening the impartiality of those charged with interpret- ing the law fairly for everyone. President Eisenhower said it best 63 years ago: “In a very real sense, the world no longer has a choice between force and law. If civilization is to survive it must choose the rule of law.” Advancing the rule of law now, means that we must look at ourselves as a profession. To advance the rule of law now, attorneys and judges must rebuke, not foster or perpetuate, falsehoods, unequal treatment under the law, and lack of accountability to the law. It is easy, at times, to focus on the impediments to rule of law and to become cynical about, and disheartened by, its abuses. Yet, it is in

President Maryam Ahmad

First Vice President E. Lynn Grayson

Second Vice President Timothy S. Tomasik

Secretary Ray J. Koenig III

Treasurer John C. Sciaccotta

Executive Director Elizabeth A. McMeen

Immediate Past President Jesse H. Ruiz BOARD OF MANAGERS Jonathan B. Amarilio Hon. Charles S. Beach II Alexis Crawford Douglas Charles P. Golbert Kathryn C. Liss Michael R. Lufrano Hon. Clare Elizabeth McWilliams

Juan Morado, Jr. Lauren S. Novak Hon. Nichole C. Patton Brandon Peck Ashley Rafael Trisha Rich Antonio M. Romanucci Ajay N. Shah

Hon. Maria Valdez Adam M. Zebelian

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