I am writing this open letter to the American Association for Justice because many, many Americans feel that the term “justice” and America are no longer synonymous. Justice in America is unfortunately afforded to only those that can afford it. This has been true as far as criminal justice is concerned for a long time now. Public Defenders and small time criminal lawyers that are overworked and under-paid try their level best, but more talented or better connected jurists work for the larger law firms that can afford to pay the big salaries and hand out those all-important perks, leaving those attorneys that are more concerned with fair and even-handed justice to toil with no recognition with very little monetary gain. We should recognize these people as heroes. There is no better calling than to stand up for the common man. Some feel that justice should come first and we applaud them. Some others however, feel that money should be the great motivator of men. It seems as if money has replaced everything our forefathers believed in, justice, fair play and democracy.
That last word, democracy is a word that has been bandied about quite a bit in the last six years. Regrettably, the more the government of this nation uses the word democracy, the less the American people see it. This President has an approval rating of 27%. Congress has a lower approval rating than the President. There must be a reason, what is that reason?
We all know what the reason is, but t he people that can do something about it turn away pretending that everything is ok. The truth is that we as Americans are not ok. We are involved in a war in Iraq that was predicated on lies and distortions of the facts. We have an Executive Branch of government that has just about taken dictatorial power since the attacks of 9/11, and our lawmakers in Washington refuse to see the reality of the situation, not because they can’t see, but because the corporate interests that are involved in illegal acts, are the same corporate interests that pay for these law makers political campaigns. Concepts that Americans have taken for granted such as the writ of habeas corpus, and the presumption of innocence until proved guilty no longer pertain to anyone that the government deems a “terrorist”.
Just who should be labeled a “terrorist”? A terrorist can be whatever the Bush Administration wants to be a terrorist. This administration has thousands of people under detention that have never been charged in a court of law. No due process, nothing but imprisonment for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sure many of these prisoners are terrorists, but how many? We will never know until they get a fair trial, so in the eyes of the law, we are holding thousands on technically innocent people at the will of the executive branch. How can attorneys such as yourselves, live with the knowledge that the law has been circumvented, and lives ruined, to advance the goals of a few men in Washington? Is this the way you imagined it would be on the day that you passed your examination for admittance to the bar?
Of course it isn’t, but time and time again, even the most principled of us, myself included, allow this administration to proceed with acts of criminality that if done by organized crime, would warrant an investigation under the RICO Statutes. How long are we willing to be blinded to the fact that true justice in America is a thing of the past? How will you live with the knowledge that it was on our watch that the American Dream died?
There is a man among you that stood up to Big Oil and won. Someone that stood up for Americans that were hurt because of corporate greed that believed in the bottom line of profit, more than they believed in safe procedures to keep their workers out of harm’s way. You will honor this man at your convention and that is a good thing, even in the world of big business and international conglomerates there are still opportunities to stand up for the common man, to stand up for what is right, and good. We have that opportunity again with this administration that has usurped the rule of law in this country and replaced it with naked power and gunboat diplomacy and with the rights that our forefathers fought and died for abrogated by new laws that give all the power to the State and leave very little for the common citizen. The insurrection Act that gives the Federal Government power over the Governors of the States as to the law enforcement powers of the State National Guard, The Military Commissions Act of 2006 that gives the military the right to torture prisoners short of “organ failure” and takes from them, the presumption of innocence and the right to be told of the charges against them, The Patriot Act that allows suspected “terrorists” to submit to home searches without a warrant and without having to inform the person that they had their premises searched by the Federal Government, The spying by the NSA in violation of the FISA Court set up for that very purpose. These are but a few of the laws that were instituted or changed under this Administration.
You have your oaths that you took when you became officers of the Court. These oaths are sacred as are all oaths administered when it is necessary to ask someone to keep a promise. I took one when I joined the Army to protect and defend the United States. There are many serving now and dying to protect their oaths. I am asking you to live up to the oaths you made when you all became officers of the court. I am asking you all to defend and protect the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic, no matter whom those enemies are. It’s what you promised to do. It is time to do it.