O P I N I O N
Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
The New Hampshire Bar Association’s motto proudly proclaims, “Equal Justice Under Law.” This phrase serves as a guiding principle, and fundamental tenet of our organization’s commitment to law, equality, and justice. The recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has triggered protests nation-wide including here in New Hampshire and brings forward the fact that for many this ideal rings hollow. We find this painful. Equally painful is the recognition that while George Floyd’s death serves as a catalyst for change, it is only one of a long list of injustices highlighting the ingrained racism that still exists in our society.
Juneteenth is a celebration marking the end of slavery in the United States. On this important day, mindful of the recent, painful events we have witnessed and experienced, it is a day for all of us all rededicate ourselves to our mission and redouble our efforts to live up to the ideal that our motto proclaims. Let us make it our mission to support the equal administration of justice for all as a state and nation. Let us support all citizens of our state, and our country, in the peaceful assertion of their constitutional and civil rights and let us work to extend that ideal to all communities.
The Bar Association recognizes that individual attorneys may have personal reactions regarding the recent events. That is their right, but their statements are not statements of the Bar Association. The Bar Association’s mission is the administration of justice. That means promoting a system of laws that guarantees equal rights for all citizens of all races. This is not a political view. It is the law. It is a bedrock principle of American justice. Our mission, motto, and purpose demand action, especially now, so that equal justice becomes a reality for all citizens.
The elimination of discrimination is of paramount importance. Our members and our courts work daily to improve and support the administration of justice through the guiding principles of trust, integrity, and service. Our association has – and will –keep working on improving access to justice in many ways, for example, through our participation in the access to justice commission, the pro bono program, and our law-related education services.
Further, our association works to support our members in the practice of law, providing continuing legal education and other essential resources to improve the administration of justice in New Hampshire. In all our work, we will strive to keep the issues of inequality and injustice in our collective consciousness, and to respond to the needs of our community and our system of justice in so doing. We encourage our members to bring additional ideas to our attention by reaching out to the Board of Governors. Working together, we can do what needs to be done to ensure that “Equal Justice Under Law” is more than a motto.
Beg to differ? Agree to disagree? We welcome thoughtful prose on topics of general interest for consideration. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: The Soapbox.
This post was submitted on behalf of the NH Bar Association by:
Dan Will, President of the NH Bar Association
Ed Philpot, Immediate Past President of the NH Bar Association