September 11, 2001

Our hearts go out to the victims of this unimaginable attack and to their families. Among them are hundreds of people we know and with whom we have worked. We are bound together with them in this tragic moment. Typical of our American way, those of us who are able want to help. I am heartened by the outpouring of support from lawyers and law firms, which have already donated their time and energies. The lawyers of America want to assist victims and their families, as well as the many lawyers and friends who had offices in the World Trade Center and surrounding buildings. Today, I am calling upon all of our country's lawyers to put their skills to work to assist those who need help.

I call on the lawyers of America to unite around the important principle that defines our society: the rule of law. At this time we need to help our communities contain their righteous anger. Unlike the cowardly and immoral terrorists who destroyed the lives of innocent men, women and children, our nation will pursue these criminals under a system that relies upon the rule of law. Moreover, as lawyers we have a special obligation to remind our neighbors that the terrorists who were involved in these despicable acts are an extremist minority. It would be both unfair and un-American to indict an entire religious or ethnic group for the conduct of a very few.

The shocking events of this past week demonstrate once again the frailty of human life and the precariousness of our democratic society. Yet the lawyers of America know that, despite its vulnerability to terrorism, the rule of law is our strongest weapon in the battle against anarchy and human destruction. As we reaffirm our conviction in the fundamental values enshrined in our Constitution, this will be our nation's finest hour.

Robert E. Hirshon
President, American Bar Association
September 14, 2001

Note: For the complete text of Hirshon's statement, and other resources, see the ABA website at www.abanet.org.

Remembering the Rule of Law

Events of the last week remind us not only of how small our world is, but how close the legal community is as well. The ABA received an outpouring of calls from lawyers from throughout the nation wanting to help. Here in Oregon, lawyers not only gave blood and sent money, but also volunteered to help Oregon's Islamic communities with the challenges they unjustly inherited on September 11. If there is one thing that every Oregon lawyer can contribute it is to help our communities understand and revere the history and power of the rule of law in this country. It has been our strength in virtually every major test the nation has faced, and it will play a vital role in carrying us through this national test as well.

Edwin Harnden
President, Oregon State Bar
September 18, 2001

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