Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day

I am among the 90% of those in my age bracket - let's leave it at that - who are at least very proud, maybe even extremely proud, to be an American, according to a recent Pew survey of patriotism.  Most of us are pretty darn proud - those two categories make up 83% of Americans overall - but this catches my attention:
Most people (59%) say they are about as patriotic as others. Just a third (33%) claim to be more patriotic than most other Americans. Notably, those who take a particularly dim view of the federal government - including those who agree with the Tea Party movement - are among the most likely to consider themselves more patriotic than most people in this country.
In the mode of 4th of July ruminations, and as someone who works for and believes in the potential of the government, I find myself a little troubled by the upsurge in being down on it.  I make a plea for the recognition that there are good, earnest people working throughout government, for the public's benefit, and in particular for appreciation of the weakest branch of government. 

As I pointed out in April, those in the judicial branch already fear that our reverence for the rule of law (and the safety and prosperity it enables) may not transcend the generations. In times of budget stress particularly, we have more prosaic concerns with routine threats to our resources and ability to provide strong courts, access to judice, a fair and impartial system, and so on.  As Alexander Hamilton put it in Federalist No. 78, the judiciary "will always be the least dangerous [department] to the political rights of the constitution" and "is in continual jeopardy of being overpowered, awed, or influenced by its coordinate branches . . . . "

So for Independence Day, or at least the work week right after it, thank your court system for being there.  We are thankful to have meaningful work providing for the administration of justice.

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