American Democracy in the Balance
We are a group of American lawyers from many different walks of life. We are alarmed. The institutions and norms of behavior that are essential to our way of life are being destroyed by the President of the United States. He is aided and abetted by members of Congress who look the other way.
We expect our president to be the president of all the people. Not someone who tries to destroy the lives of citizens who disagree with his policies, who calls for them to be locked up, tries to stop their travel abroad and brands them as traitors.
We expect our president to worry about foreign involvement in our elections, not to encourage their involvement.
We expect our president to welcome vital intelligence, not to disparage what American intelligence agencies are telling him about what is happening.
We expect our president to enforce the law and see to it that justice is done. Not to obstruct efforts to uncover the truth, vilify judges whose rulings he dislikes or seek to jail those with whom he disagrees.
We expect our president to fight violence and hatred and to heal the wounds that threaten to make a mockery of E Pluribus Unum. Not to fan flames that can make ashes of our nation’s edifice.
We expect our president to fight for our Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of the press and expression. Not to brand the media as the enemy of the people and the purveyors of fake news.
We expect our president to respect the Congress as a co-equal branch of government. Not to treat it as an enemy because it seeks to uncover the facts essential to the exercise of its responsibilities.
We expect our president to be the exemplar of a democratic, humane and inclusive society. Not one who basks in the image of autocrats and dictators.
We expect our president to put aside personal financial gain in service to the nation. Not one who uses the office to enrich himself and his family.
We expect our Congress to defend the balance of powers the founding fathers devised to guard against tyranny. Not to be little more than an enabler of presidential command.
Our alarm is based not on differences about policy. It is based on fundamental changes in the way our governing institutions are working. On the current path, our country will soon be unrecognizable.
As alarmed American lawyers, we again call upon our leaders to screw up their courage, to see the darkness into which we are now descending and to lead us down a different path. We did so back in February of this year. See www.lawyersdefendingdemocracy.org (“The Open Letter”). We do so again because the downward drift continues.
Join us and over 800 of our colleagues in denouncing President Donald Trump’s assaults on democratic principles and the rule of law by signing onto our Open Letter to the President and Congress. www.lawyersdefendingdemocracy.org (“Sign Our Open Letter”).
We pray in the words of Longfellow that “[i]n the hour of darkness and peril and need, [t]he people will waken and listen to hear’ the alarm bells ringing in our ears.”
The Steering Committee, Lawyers Defending American Democracy
Dated: September 25, 2019
Scott Harshbarger, Chairman – Former National President of Common Cause and two-term Attorney General of Massachusetts
Robert Dell – Retired Attorney
Fernande (Nan) R.V. Duffly– Former Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal – Executive Director, Lawyers for Civil Rights.
Evan Falchuk – Former independent gubernatorial candidate for Massachusetts and founder of the United Independent Party; Auburndale, MA
Nicholas Fels – Retired partner, Covington & Burling LLP
Eugene Fidell– Counsel at Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP, Washington, DC, and Florence Rogatz Visiting Lecturer at Yale Law School
Ruth Ellen Fitch– Retired partner, Palmer & Dodge; retired President/CEO The Dimock Health Center
Carmen F. Francella – Boston, MA
Fred M. Lowenfels– General Counsel Emeritus at Trammo, Inc., New York
Stanley J. Marcuss – Former Counsel to the U.S. Senate’s International Finance Subcommittee; former Senior Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Commerce Department; former partner, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy; former Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School; retired partner, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Washington DC.
James F. McHugh – Former Associate Justice, Massachusetts Appeals Court
Thomas Mela – Former Director of the Children’s Law Support Project; former General Counsel for the Massachusetts Office for Children and Chief Attorney for the New England Office of the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights; Newbury, MA
John T. Montgomery– Ropes & Gray, former managing partner (retired)
Gershon M. (Gary) Ratner – Founder and Executive Director, Citizens for Effective Schools; former Associate General Counsel for Litigation, U.S. Dep’t of Housing & Urban Development
Emanuel L. Rouvelas – Washington, DC
Lois Schiffer – Former Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, US Department of Justice and former General Counsel, NOAA
Lisa Weissler – Retired Assistant Attorney General of Alaska
Lucien Wulsin – Founder and retired Executive Director, Insure the Uninsured Project (ITUP). Los Angeles, CA