Open Letter to the Profession
My Fellow American Lawyers:
The seasons have now cycled since
that moment when we saw a blue September sky turn the darkest
of gray. One year ago, forces from outside our imagination attacked
innocent and earnest people for no other reason than they were
workaday participants in the wondrous journey that is America.
September 11th was not
the first time we, as a nation, have endured such a stunning
shock to our sensibilities and faith. Nor, in all probability,
will it be the last. The deep outpouring of grief and sympathy
from ordinary people all over the world was the manifestation
of an almost universally-held belief that, despite the disagreements
that invariably exist between nations, America is a phenomena
unlike any other in the history of mankind. That in power we
find compassion; in wealth we find conscience. That we are a
nation of individualism, fiercely protective of all manners
of our freedom, a place where one can believe in any God, speak
any idea, maintain any belief. The United States has been a
salvation for millions and millions because we are a nation
of democracy, tolerance, and the deeply-held conviction that
the human spirit, left to flower, can triumph over almost any
Such an allegiance to these ideals
is not just rhetorical. It is written into, and facilitated
by, our laws. It is our law, above all else, that binds us all
to a common moral code. Our law protects us from tyranny,
rewards our creativity, punishes our corruptness. Our
law facilitates that which is the greatest moral concept our
species has ever had the temerity to develop; the concept of
As lawyers, you and I see justice
every day. Fair hearing, due process, presumption of innocence,
are the foundations on which everything else rests. It is you
and I, the American lawyer, whose calling it is to ensure that
justice is done.
Most of us became lawyers because
of a desire to be involved in the operation of the social construct.
As officers of the court, we seek to ensure that our vast universe
of human endeavor moves with the grace of justice. We are sworn
to pursue this calling with our common oath to "uphold, defend
and protect the Constitution and the laws of the United States
I hope all lawyers have felt, as
I have, a renewed passion for our chosen profession in these
new times. No matter how far removed your daily work seems from
the founding principles of this nation we know that it is not.
Justice exists every day, each a fair hearing, each served by
The law is, and always will be,
our collective shelter from the storm.
Alfred P. Carlton, Jr.
President, American Bar Association