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Compelling Constitutional Conversations



Dec 15, 2016

- by Christopher Naughton

C pontificating on set.jpg

We've had some compelling conversations of our own at ALJ’s home office. In light of our recent election cycle, when I mention the “the rule of law,” some of my colleagues— not to mention non-lawyer friends and family outside the office— recoil when I utter the phrase.  To them it sounds didactic and authoritarian. 

But despite its elusive meaning and its even more elusive fruition, the Rule of Law is the single most important principle to cling to in a times of great uncertainty, fear or upheaval. 

When we [Americans] talk about the rule of law, we assume that we’re talking about a law that promotes freedom, that promotes justice, that promotes equality.

—U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy 2007

An oft-heard saying is “the rule of law means the government of law, not men.” According to the American Bar Association “the key point is that every form of government has to have some system to ensure that no one in the government has so much power that they can act above the law.” 

That is why in the new year of 2017 expect to see more compelling constitutional conversations on The American Law Journal where the Rule of Law is front and center.

  • In Whose Constitution Is It Anyway? will examine the various constitutional enclaves that view the document itself very differently: from the American Constitutional Society and the Alliance for Justice to the CATO Institute and the Federalist Society.

  • The Constitution in the Era of Trump will look at how a new administration might honor or flaunt the rule of law.  

I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

—Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail” 1963

We are headed into uncharted waters. In a sped up, converging world. In a highly divided nation. Those are just the facts. What we do with those facts must be guided by our conscience and our adherence to the Rule of Law. Sticking by those time-honored principles will see us through.


Christopher Naughton is the Host and Executive Producer of The American Law Journal. On the air since 1990, the Emmy award-winning program examines consumer, business and Constitutional law issues. 


Category: Constitutional Law

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