Dean Barbara Glesner Fines on Recent National Events

The events of January 6, 2021 have emphasized the importance of the role of lawyers and the rule of law.

Dean Barbara Glesner Fines Statement to the Law School Community

on the Rule of Law

January 7, 2021

Reflecting on the events of the past 24 hours in our nation’s capitol, I remain appalled and frightened by yesterday’s violent interference with the Constitutional process required to insure the transition of power in a democracy.   Like a dollar bill – that has value only because we all agree and believe in the monetary system -- the rule of law is only as powerful as the respect that it is given.  When the public believes in the rule of law, they feel free to exercise their constitutional rights to organize and advocate for change through political action and peaceful protest.  They also trust that they can petition the courts to challenge outcomes with which they disagree.  If they believe in the rule of law, they also respect the decisions that result from those processes, even when they disagree with those outcomes.  Without respect for the authority of our legal system, especially when we disagree, we are left only with raw power and violence to resolve our differences. As attorneys and officers of the court, and as public citizens, we have a duty to protect the fragile trust that undergirds the rule of law. As professionals dedicated to using reasoned discourse rather than violence to resolve disputes, we must recognize that our work is critical to the very stability of our society.  I am relieved and grateful to our elected representatives who returned to fulfill their Constitutional duty.  And now we too must return to our work, and to our special responsibility to continually improve our system of justice and adherence to the rule of law.

Published: Jan 7, 2021