Friday, January 17, 2014

Martin Luther King’s Dream of Justice

State and federal government offices, including the Ohio Supreme Court, will be closed on Monday to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

More than 50 years ago,  Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech inspired our nation. And today, students still learn about the meaning of the speech that continues to inspire.  Each February as part of the Supreme Court’s recognition of Black History Month we hear from the local junior division winner of the Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contest.

It’s wholly appropriate that the Supreme Court hosts this celebration. The ideals that Dr. King outlined in 1963 are those of legal justice and equality. These are the hopes not just of one person, but are the ideals on which our country was founded and those that are to be upheld by our state and federal courts.

State law requires  each judge in Ohio to take an oath of office that promises to strive for justice and equal protection under law.  After swearing or affirming to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Ohio,  the judge promises to  “administer justice without respect to persons,”  and to faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all of the duties of the office according to the best of his or her ability and understanding.
These words regarding administering justice “without respect to persons” echo the portion of Dr. King’s speech that said: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

The U.S. Supreme Court building has the words “Equal Justice Under Law” prominently displayed.  We in the legal profession must continue to work toward equality and justice. And as a nation we can hope Dr. King’s words become more than a dream.

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