Thursday, January 7, 2021

On the unprecedented events at the U.S. Capitol

Earlier today, I shared this message with the UC Davis School of Law community.  I share it with you as we try process the events yesterday:
Dean Johnson addresses unprecedented events at the U.S. Capitol

A message from Dean Kevin R. Johnson

Jan. 7, 2021

Yesterday was a deeply troubling day in one of the most challenging times in U.S. history. But make no mistake: We will get through this as a community.

Our nation saw an unprecedented and appalling assault on the rule of law and our deep and enduring democratic traditions. As Congress carried out its constitutional duty of accepting the certified results of the 2020 presidential election, a mob stormed our Capitol. Whatever our political views, we should all condemn such behavior. There is a stark difference between peaceful protest, which is constitutionally protected, and violence designed to undermine democratic processes.

As we process this traumatic challenge to our democracy, please take to heart the observations of Chancellor Gary S. May. He reminds us of something incredibly positive that greeted us all yesterday:

. . . I awoke this morning . . . buoyed by the thoughtful reflection shared by newly elected Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, who said that the hands of his 82-year-old mother that were once “used to pick somebody else’s cotton” were just used to vote for the first African American senator in the history of his state. I lived much of my adult life in the state of Georgia. . . . I have attended several services in Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he is pastor and Martin Luther King Jr. once was. I always enjoyed his sermons and was uplifted by the progress his story represented. . . .

There are other reasons for optimism. Our institutions are strong. Our commitment to the rule of law, which is more important now than ever, is unwavering. Although yesterday saw an unprecedented challenge to the rule of law, we also witnessed its triumph.  After a violent mob stormed our Capitol, the rule of law prevailed. Following the process set forth in the Constitution, Congress accepted the results of the Electoral College. A new president and vice president will be inaugurated in a matter of days. These events demonstrate why the law and what lawyers do matter so much. Let us try to focus moving forward constructively and positively. 

I am hopeful that we as a community can schedule a time to discuss the serious issues facing the nation. We will be in touch as plans develop.  Please stay healthy and take good care.


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