Regarding Civics, I start with the Declaration of Independence and its statement that all persons “are created equal” and there are “unalienable Rights [to] Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” which governments are “instituted” to “secure.” To me, this means all individuals should have equal opportunities to pursue happiness free from exploitation or barriers created by others. Slaveholders before the Civil War asserted that banning slavery was taking away their liberty to own slaves and interfering with their states’ rights to order society in that manner. But that liberty to exploit others, which will inevitably result in exploitation by the rich and powerful, is not the Declaration’s meaning. Grounded in the Scottish and English Enlightenments, its meaning is about guaranteeing an equal opportunity to be free from such exploitation. That is the freedom to which lawyers should aspire.
Regarding Civility, I think people should discuss issues in a civil manner. One does not have to protest violently or refuse to let individuals who wish to speak have their say, as sometimes occurs. But civility does not require passive toleration or silence when faced with views that support exploitation.Read More