Our system of government is essentially a reaction to other forms of government from which our founding fathers hailed. Since most came from England which was governed by a monarchy, the fathers of this country reacted against that form of government by creating a representative democracy or constitutional republic in which absolute power lay in the hands of no one single person. The founders understood that absolute power corrupts absolutely. So when the framers of our Constitution convened in the late 18th century, they sought to create a government that set up natural checks and balances-where one group was offset by another group. No one held absolute power and each branch of government served as a check and balance on the other. Some may view this as cynical but I like to think of it as practical. Given human nature and the truism that absolute power corrupts absolutely, each branch of government needs a check so that it doesn’t trample the rights of those whom it should serve.
In the little more than two centuries of our existence, we’ve seen this system put to the test and each time our form of government with its checks and balances has stood firm. Just think of Lincoln and the Civil War or Franklin Roosevelt who tried to stack the Supreme Court or more recently Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre. The checks and balances have been a necessary safeguard to protect our freedoms.
Any abuse of power by any elected official is a threat to our democracy and a real and present danger to our way of life. As a lawyer and an officer of the court (one of the three branches of government-for those of you who need to brush up on your civics), it is my responsibility to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. When I see an abuse of power, it is my duty and my responsibility to act.