The Pillars of Democracy Are Not Subject To Debate
by Tom Letson
“We the People,” that’s the way the United States Constitution Preamble starts. Since the founding of this great country we have been defining and broadening just who “We the People” are. While we have expanded the circle of “We the People” we have also expanded the protections that our Constitution guarantees.
The hallmark of our constitutional protections is the Fourteenth Amendment. Contained in that is the Equal Protection Clause. That short statement allows our citizens to rely on our courts to treat each one of us as equals when we stand before them.
Harper Lee, in To Kill a Mockingbird, has Atticus Finch address the court with one of the most famous speeches in all of literature. He calls upon the jury to remember that:
“There is one way in this country in which all men are created equal—there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is the court.”
In my mind that is the embodiment of democracy. We aspire to create a place where the playing field is level and everyone has to play by the same rules. This is the essence of the rule of law.
The oath that all elected officials in the state of Ohio take requires one to promise to uphold the Constitution of the United States along with the Constitution of the state of Ohio. I believe very strongly in “due process” and “equal protection.” Those are the two legs that everyone before the court stands on. The oath that we take requires us to make sure that those rights are observed; anything short of that and we fail in our duty to the citizens of Ohio.
Tom Letson is the State Representative for Ohio’s 64th House District and a candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court