Inscribed in marble and embedded in the center of our law firm in Chatham are the words my law partner and I wished to display as an expression of the core values of our practice. They are found in the ancient Scripture of Micah 6:8:
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God
Beyond a mere theocratic prescription for Israel, these words from the prophet instruct us on our duty to one another. They contribute to the Judeo-Christian ethic that informs the laws in this country. A thorough discussion of this idea is beyond the scope of this column, but it bears some mention, I believe, as preface to my activities in the General Assembly which touch on the concept of that cardinal virtue: justice.
Contrary to the impression left by the national media, Americans should accept some measure of authentic pride with the knowledge that our system of liberty under law, more so than in any other nation, allows actual justice for all with features such as equal protection, divided government and free elections, to name just a few. Unfortunately, the so-called “social justice warriors” of modern times, who themselves enjoy the benefits of our constitutional republic, fail to recognize this fortunate state. These activists on the anti-American left, who routinely confuse mob rule for democracy, seem bent on reversing moral standards and redistributing wealth through state power and coercion. In truth, the current “social justice” ethos is, in many ways, decidedly unjust.
This is not to say, however, that from time to time, systematic corrections are not necessary. A prime example of this truth can be seen in the ongoing struggle to protect the right to life. Other, less prominent subjects, are also worthy of attention, such as in the area of the criminal law, where effective procedures are necessary to ensure the public safety while maintaining the dignity and worth afforded every individual summoned to answer before the courts.
Because this is an important and ongoing objective of state government, I have this session sponsored legislation aimed at improving the effectiveness of criminal justice in the Commonwealth. These bills, which I will explain in more detail in a future column, have passed in committee and are making their way through the House.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the recognition made last week of individuals in our community who, over the course of many years, have demonstrated the prophet’s call not only to justice, but also to mercy and humility. I speak of three servants with the local charitable organization known as “God’s Pit Crew. At the group’s recent annual banquet, I was pleased to help present commending resolutions from the General Assembly to David Willis, James Hodge, and Ricky Hyler. As we said to them then, I say again now, thank you for putting your faith into action.