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Lauren and Rob Hudson: Letter of common ground about justice — ”With liberty and justice for all’

Letters for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa

In today’s letter we continue to address the last six words of our Pledge of Allegiance, which unify us “With liberty and justice for all.”

We write to encourage people to recognize the common ground we already share in the latter part of this phrase, “justice for all.”

One need only consider America’s commitment to justice in the proper, correct light to get there.

America balanced its land of liberty with a nation of laws. Many of America’s laws promote justice, protect our liberties, and pave the way for our economy. People who focus only on our differences overlook the fact that most of us have the same or very similar ideas about basic principles of justice.

If we lived in a country with no legal system to intervene when someone physically harms us or takes our property, we would have no security. Without courts, laws, and justice, we would be pre-occupied with protecting ourselves, with no confidence that we could keep what we earn.

Without a justice system, people would resolve disputes by turning to violence. Mass disruption of peace and business would be inevitable. America’s system of justice, which includes the items below, thrives because we have chosen the rule of law over mob rule.

Equal Justice – We have the right to equal justice in the court system and to equal treatment when our government threatens freedoms or property. We can sue if the government fails to provide equal justice.

Due Process – We have the right to due, fair process in the court system when our life, liberty, or property is at stake. This includes notice of claims against us, the right to legal counsel, and a process that allows us to vindicate our rights.

Balancing Rights versus Protection from Harm – Many laws balance liberty ideas against protecting our natural right to avoid wrongful physical injury or property damage. For example, we have the right to speak, but we cannot cause a stampede of people in a movie theater by yelling “fire” when there isn’t one. We have the right to associate with others, but we cannot become a gang destroying other people’s property. We can own a gun, but not dangerous weapons of war like a surface-to-air missile. When rights conflict with one another, the government, including our judicial system, tries to serve justice by balancing those rights.

Freedom in Personal Choices – We choose our property, activities, and work, but we must live with our unwise choices. Generally, we cannot sue to have someone else or the government fix problems we create. Life consequences, like good ones with success and bad ones with failure, provide an important form of justice by encouraging people to be productive and to make solid decisions.

People will always debate the size of government and the effectiveness of our legal system. We should, however, celebrate the fact that America has government agencies and courts with legal rules to protect liberty. Hundreds of thousands of people work in our justice system, and we spend billions of dollars in it each year.

We would have little or no ability to live out our natural rights and liberties without a justice system based on the rule of law. Even though we come up short at times, people who complain about American justice have great difficulty identifying countries with better systems.

Far too often, we fast forward to the point of disagreement in our political discussions, rather than acknowledging common ground. Positive common ground includes our basic rule of law, enforced within America’s system of justice.

Frost Brown Todd LLC Member and business lawyer Rob Hudson is a Past Chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber. 2018 Independent Author of the Year Lauren Hudson is a Singletary Scholar at the University of Kentucky. Their next letter will explore common ground about America’s roots.

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