There’s a quote that’s been running around my head the last few days, from Mr. Rogers: ‘When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.’
That’s what came to mind every single time I’d see footage of people camped out with their laptops at the airports, watch friends and colleagues blasting immigration law pointers on Facebook, providing free advice left, right, and sideways, acting as conduits and go-betweens for families and clients. This past week I was never so proud to be a lawyer, to belong to a profession that has at its core not just the ability but the ethical requirement to speak truth to power. I’ve been proud before. My mother has put away rapists and murderers, stood in a dead girl’s blood in the middle of the night filing warrants to find her killer, and I’ve spent the last 6 years since law school trying to get even remotely close to a shadow of what she’s done for the American public. But seeing all of these lawyers, en mass, show up for strangers without a thought for their own careers or safety, my passion for the profession was renewed.
People like to hate lawyers, and I get it. We can come off as focused on semantics, holier-than-thou, and unnecessarily fastidious. We can be seen as a barrier to efficiency, and turned on by getting to tell people no. We aren’t swayed by emotion and we employ reason and directness when other people want to fall apart. I went into law school full of passion and not a lot of facts or logic. I came out able to use both facts and logic to intellectually beat my opponent into submission, regarding those things about which I was passionate. As one of my law school professors put it, we’re sharks. Dead eyed and looking for meat. We’re unsettling. I get it.
But as this last week proved, you need us on that wall. You want us there. Because when they come for our rights, they come for us all. When chaos is everywhere, you want someone who can compartmentalize their emotions and stick to the facts. When cancer attacks a body, you want a doctor. When the Constitution is threatened, you want a lawyer. You need one. And we’ll show up. Day or night, all across the country, we show the fuck up to defend us all.
And it worked. The US District Court granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the immigration Executive Order, and the 9th Circuit, the pot-smoking hippy of the US Court of Appeals, refused to grant the the Government a stay, or reverse the TRO. Do you understand what magic this is? This is checks and balances in real time. This is one part of our government standing up for our people, against another part of our government; one part understanding that they work for the people, not the other way around. It is a Constitutional marvel, and it worked.
So come at us with your lawyer jokes, your divorce horror stories, your ambulance chasing preconceptions. We can take it. And when they come for you, we’ll take that on too.