A LAWYER IN AMERICA
Before you take on a significant political case, and almost every defense of an individual in support of a cause one way or another is a political case, ask yourself, what are you.
IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, what are you?
IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, you stand between the abuse of governmental power and the individual!
IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, you stand between the abuse of corporate power and the individual!
IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, you stand between the abuse of judicial power and the individual!
IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, you are the hairshirt to the smugness and complacency of society; and
IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, you are helping to mold the rights of individuals for generations to come.
IF YOU ARE A LAWYER, you are the trustees of all liberty. You will find some of the great lawyers in one way or another to have accomplished what I just said.
I SAW HIM so long ago, a Philadelphian in New York. The Philadelphia lawyer at the Nation’s first political trial upholding John Peter Zanger’s constitutional right to publish what he choose free from censorship or interference. His name was Andrew Hamilton and HE WAS A LAWYER.
I SAW HIM at the trial of Captain Preston; another political trial. The unpopular cause and client arising out of the Boston Massacre. His name was John Adams and HE WAS A LAWYER.
I SAW HIM defending Sam Houston charged with assaulting another Congressman during the trial in the US House of Representatives, his name was Francis Scott Key, composer of the Star Spangled Banner, and HE WAS A LAWYER.
I SAW HIM at the miracle in Philadelphia. The Constitutional
convention of 1787, fighting for the Bill of
Rights, the credo of American freedom not adopted until 1789. His name was James Madison and HE WAS A LAWYER.
I SAW HIM presiding over the Supreme Court of our Land. The architect of the real
powers of the Supreme Court. His name was John Marshall and HE WAS A LAWYER.
I SAW HIM extorting the battle cry of the Republic proclaiming:
“GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH.”
His name was Patrick Henry and HE WAS A LAWYER.
I SAW HIM at Gettysburg with tears in his eyes, gaunt and remorse, rededicating
our country to the principal of equal justice for all. His name was Abraham
Lincoln and HE WAS A LAWYER.
I SAW HIM, an elemental man, fighting for one cause or another and in Dayton,
Tennessee preaching the legitimacy of evolution. His name was Clarence Darrow
and HE WAS A LAWYER.
I SAW HIM speaking to us from his wheel chair lifting our spirits making us
strong with his inspirational
philosophy.. “The only thing to fear, is fear itself.” His name was Franklin Roosevelt and HE WAS A LAWYER.
I SAW HIM in the Senate Hearing Room on Washington uttering his
anguished cry for decency. His name was Joseph Welch and HE WAS A LAWYER.
I thought of the precious monuments that they had left to their lives and to Milton’s
wonderful comment on Shakespeare…
“Thou and I wonder in astonishment left
thouself a monument. Not a monument of brick and motor but one that will live, for only a thought lives.”
Finally, I thought of that marvelous admonition of Holmes when almost 100
years ago, he said… “I think that as life is action and passion, it is required of man that he share the passion and action of his time at the peril of being judged not to have lived!”