Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Re-enfranchisement: Attorney General Holder Addresses Criminal Justice Reform



Whenever we tell citizens who have paid their debts and rejoined their communities that they are not entitled to take part in the democratic process, we fall short of the bedrock promise—of equal opportunity and equal justice—that has always served as the foundation of our legal system. So it’s time to renew our commitment—here and now—to the notion that the free exercise of our fundamental rights should never be subject to politics, or geography, or the lingering effects of flawed and unjust policies.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Remarks on Criminal Justice Reform
11 February 2014
Georgetown University Law Center


[Editor’s Note: What follows is the official transcript of the Attorney General’s speech. GOVERNINGWorks has made few formatting changes to the text of the speech. But, the words of the Attorney General’s speech are in no way affected.]


Thank you, Wade [Henderson], for those kind words—and thank you all for being here. It’s a privilege to join so many criminal justice leaders, policy experts, public servants, and aspiring legal professionals at today’s Forum. And it’s a pleasure to be back at Georgetown University Law Center.

I’d like to thank Dean [William] Treanor and Nick Turner—along with their colleagues from the University, the Vera Institute of Justice, and the Leadership Conference Education Fund—for hosting this important discussion, and bringing this remarkable group together to confront some of the most complex, and urgent, criminal justice challenges of our time.

Today, we gather in recognition of the fact that, although our laws and procedures must be continually updated, our commitment to the cause of justice must remain constant. From its earliest days, our Republic has been bound together by its extraordinary legal system, and by the enduring values that define it. These values—of equality, opportunity, and justice under law—were first codified in our founding documents. And they are put into action every day by leaders like you—and the talented men and women who learn, at great institutions like Georgetown, what it means to be a steward of the law—and an advocate for those whom it protects and empowers.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Presidents Day (2014): George Washington's First Inaugural Address

All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.

President George Washington
17 January 1789


Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

Among the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mitt Questions: A Documentary Film & the Candidate We Never Knew

Does it matter what you know about a political candidate’s personal life? How does it relate to your vote?

If you think about questions like these, you should consider Mitt, a new Netflix documentary about Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful 2008 and 2012 Presidential campaigns. The film trades in these questions with the personal story of candidate Mitt Romney, drawing on years-long, seemingly unfettered behind-the-scenes access to Mr Romney and his family as he runs for President.

The film, directed by Greg Whiteley, begins in a Boston hotel room in 2012, where a stunned silent Romney family, prodded by Mr Romney, begins to think about what to say in a concession speech, the loss to President Barack Obama dawning slowly. The shot fades, and we are delivered to a Romney home in 2006. We see the family gathered in the living room, Mr Romney with pen and legal pad in hand, wrestling with why Mr Romney would run for President of the United States.

No handlers. No consultants. Just family. And, remarkably, a camera shooting up into the middle of the discussion.