December 19, 2019 Feature

The Importance of Judicial Outreach in Our Time, and Its Connection to a Divided Past

By Mark O’Halloran, Carolyn A. Dubay, and Melissa Aubin

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is often quoted, but perhaps not in connection with judicial outreach. Like any speech given by a president following tragedy, Lincoln’s mere appearance for the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg was controversial due to concerns of politics interfering with the solemn occasion. In fact, Lincoln’s brief remarks were supposed to be overshadowed by the two-hour-long speech of famous orator Edward Everett. Most of us have never heard a single word of Everett’s speech, but many of us can recite at least a small excerpt of Lincoln’s 272 words from memory: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”1 The creation of a new nation filled with hopes of equality and committed to the rule of law only 87 years earlier was remarkable. Lincoln knew that the world was watching this fledging democratic government, which had replaced centuries of rule by monarchies and autocracies, struggle in the midst of civil war, testing the notions upon which the government was conceived and that had bonded the country together.

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