World News – USA – Collier: Thanks for the rule of law

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This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. We all have our traditions for vacation – traveling with family, dining with friends, soccer games, movies, and other customs. With COVID-19, we need to change many of these and observe Thanksgiving in a way that is different from our previous celebrations.

It is good that we are celebrating in this meaningful, personal way. But Thanksgiving is also a time to look beyond our individual perspectives and reflect on the bigger and collective things for which we as Americans can be thankful. We can worship or not, however we choose. We can speak freely without state interference. We can read any newspaper, magazine, or other media we choose. We can vote for any candidate we want, a right now being exercised by more fellow citizens than ever before. And we can be grateful to live in a country where the rule of law is secure and paramount. In fact, this is one of the reasons the United States adopted Thanksgiving as a holiday.

Thanksgiving has its roots in a joint resolution congress presented to President George Washington in 1789. It urged him to “recommend a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to the people of the United States, to be observed, recognizing with a grateful heart the many signaling favors of Almighty God, particularly by giving them a peaceful opportunity to shape create. « the government for your safety and happiness. « 

President Washington, who accepted the resolution, added in his proclamation his wish that the people « may then unite by humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of the nations and asking him our national and international. » to forgive other transgressions. « So that we all, whether on public or private stations, can properly and punctually carry out our various and relative tasks »

The proclamation did not focus on gratitude for personal wealth, individual positions, or other private matters. Rather, he urged the people to be grateful and to ask for a national government that would be a blessing for all people, a government with « wise, just and constitutional laws ». « 

With these words, President Washington was referring to what we call the rule of law, the idea of ​​government that obeys law, not the whims or desires of the individual. This concept means that everyone is equal before the law and the law applies equally and fairly to everyone. This means that the government and ordinary citizens have the same legal standard.

We should all be grateful that after all these years we still have a country that adheres to the rule of law. Because the rule of law is not self-sustaining. Those entrusted with positions of authority must not only enforce the law but also obey it. It must be accepted and practiced by ordinary citizens if it is to endure. And it depends on an independent judiciary to protect them.

The federal courts play a unique and vital role in upholding the rule of law. The drafters of the constitution gave us three separate, equal branches of government. They planned a judicial department with a lifelong tenure to keep the judiciary independent from the other two departments. This enables the courts to function without undue influence from the legislative and executive partisanship.

Judges must make impartial decisions based solely on applicable law and the facts of the case or dispute. You have to do this regardless of the identity of the parties, public opinion, or the mood of the day. Current passion, no matter how strong, must be combated. Our courts must be open to anyone who thinks they have a dispute that can be settled in court. Legal proceedings are also publicly known. The judges make public decisions that explain the law and applicable facts. The public nature of court decisions provides accountability and enables citizens to judge the fairness and consistency of the courts with the rule of law.

On Thanksgiving Day, we can all be grateful for the role the judiciary has played in upholding the rule of law.

Curtis L.. . Collier, Senior U. . S.. . District Judge, chairs the Civics and Outreach Committee of the Eastern District of Tennessee.

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Thanksgiving, George Washington, National Thanksgiving Proclamation

World News – USA – Collier: Thanks for the rule of law
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