From the president: Of the people, by the people, for the people

We have voices that are uniquely qualified for advancing and preserving democracy.

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  • | 1:05 a.m. May 2, 2024
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Ours is a home-schooling family.

In presidential election years, my wife and I teach a civics class to home-schooled teenagers, studying many foundational documents that gave voice to democracy.

A brief primer on these documents fits well with this year’s Law Day theme.

Blane McCarthy

Several ancient writings helped shape our country’s concept of government and its eventual democratic republic form. The Bible speaks of humanity’s moral code, justice, and productive relations between people and peoples. The Magna Carta restricted the power of the ruler and established the rights of his subjects. 

Closer in time and nearer to home, Pilgrims on the Mayflower voiced democracy via a “civil body politic.” Before disembarking, those brave souls drafted and signed the Mayflower Compact to ensure that civil order and common good remained their colony’s focus.

Fast forward 156 years to the writing and signing of America’s Declaration of Independence, which voiced the self-evident truths that all people “are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

This loud voice of democracy was heard around the world, inspiring an otherwise outmatched nation to successfully free itself from the authority of the world’s most powerful empire.

This newly independent country needed to codify its system of democracy. The first attempt – The Articles of Confederation – failed by diluting any aspired hope for a national government in favor of state rights.

Thereafter, several writers penned the Federalist Papers to voice support for a healthy democracy that blended state and national sovereignty.

These efforts resulted in the 1787 drafting of the Constitution of the United States of America, whose stated purpose was “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

Shortly thereafter, the nation ratified the Constitution’s first 10 Amendments – the Bill of Rights enacted to keep the government from overreaching and infringing upon the liberties of its constituents.

Sixty-eight years later, and four score and seven years after our nation declared its independence, our 16th President stood on a Pennsylvania battlefield to commemorate a national cemetery.

Abraham Lincoln spoke of the resolve needed to continually empower and enable a democratic society, giving strong voice to the notion “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Many other voices of democracy have added substantial impact to the life of our nation and the course of human history. Yet, this year’s Law Day theme encourages us to do more than reflect on those past voices.

While The Jacksonville Bar Association builds community so you can better enjoy being a lawyer, this community does not just enhance one’s pursuit of happiness.

It provides a platform of like-minded, similarly equipped professionals to protect the rights of life and liberty.

We in the legal profession have voices that are uniquely qualified for advancing and preserving democracy.

Let us not remain silent.

Blane McCarthy is a certified circuit mediator at Miles Mediation & Arbitration in Jacksonville.



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