By President & CEO Skye Perryman

Every lawyer in the United States takes an oath in order to engage in the active practice of law. And, while these oaths differ from state to state, they uniformly require that lawyers support the United States Constitution. Constitution Day is a good day to reflect on this commitment – and on the document that serves as a foundation for our democracy.  

A commitment to the Constitution is a commitment to we, the people, working to achieve a more perfect union. While the Constitution itself was not a document that represented all of the people when it was first ratified, through the hard-fought struggle of those who believed in the promise of a more perfect union and were undeterred in seeking to achieve it, the Constitution became more inclusive – guaranteeing equal protection under the law and equal representation. As the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan would remind us:

In 2023, the fight for a democracy that works for all people continues. Constitution Day this year arises at a particularly pivotal moment in American democracy. It occurs as our public libraries and classrooms are under attack from extremists who want to restrict the first amendment and the freedom to read and learn. Constitution Day arises as an anti-democratic movement seeks to misuse the courts in order to roll back the rights of people and of hard-fought progress on civil rights – those who do not fully embrace equal protection under the law and instead seek to create a society for some, not all. It takes place as people continue to struggle to access life-saving care in the face of those who seek to restrict and ban it and as state legislatures and governors’ mansions across the country are targeting people based on their identities, including children. It comes as extremists continue to undermine the ability of people to vote, and just a day after we saw politicians in the Texas Senate prioritize their own power over the public good.  And a mere week after we saw a number of former President Trump’s lawyers charged with engaging in election subversion, in violation of their sacred oath. 

In the face of these struggles and more, Constitution Day is a good day to revisit first principles: we, the people, must work for a more perfect union. The commitment that everyone – not just some – should be entitled to equal protection under the law. That all people in our country are afforded the right to vote, to speak, and to assemble, and to the promise of a democracy that will work for everyone, not just the privileged few.  

As lawyers, we swear an oath to support the Constitution. And, at Democracy Forward, this is what we do every day. You will find us in court opposing book bans and censorship, protecting healthcare access, and advancing the rights of all. You will find us working to combat governmental corruption and expose wrongdoing, to ensure the people know and have access to information about the conduct of those entrusted with public power. On Constitution Day and every day, we believe that the Constitution and that our democracy are worth the fight. 

At another pivotal moment in our democracy’s history, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan concluded “My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total.” She then said, “I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution.”

Neither are we.