“Justice is like the north star, which is fixed, and all the rest revolve about it.” –Confucius
“The law provides necessary continuity amidst our constantly shifting political landscape. It is an assurance that the rules of the game apply equally to everybody, whether they are in today’s or yesterday’s majority.” – Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
I'm often asked how I decide what to write about in my Monday Morning Message and when I write it. Sometimes, I know as early as Friday what I'll write about, but more often, I wait until the weekend in case an intervening event or experience occurs that prompts me to write about how it relates to our law school's mission "Learn Law. Live Justice."
While on an evening flight this past weekend, returning from a national conference of law school deans, I read a fascinating article in the New York Times, Name Your Own Planet, about a unique global contest about outer space.
Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University has our own C|M|LAW Global Space Law Center directed by Professor Mark Sundahl, so I’m reading a lot about our universe these days. (Did you know that there are more stars in the observable universe than grains of sand on Earth?)
On June 7, 2019, the International Astronomical Union, the world organization of astronomers, announced a global contest, Name ExoWorlds, allowing every country in the world to name its own “exoplanet” and the star it calls home, known as the hosting star. An exoplanet is a planet outside our Solar System. Our sun is just one of thousands of stars, and for every star, there is at least one planet. Thousands of exoplanets have been discovered orbiting other stars over the past three decades.
The proposed names in the contest should be of things, people, or places of long-standing cultural, historical, or geographical significance, worthy of being assigned to a celestial object. Two names should be proposed - one for the exoplanet and one for the star it orbits.
So as I gazed at our solar system’s stars from my airplane window seat, I decided to submit an entry.
During the course of the law school deans conference, over meals and in hallway conversations, many law school deans discussed the critical importance of "the rule of law" in today's world. For me and many of my dean colleagues, the rule of law is the single best reason to get a legal education.
So what's the "rule of law"? It is the principle of self-governance that all people and institutions, including the government and its leaders, are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and equally enforced. It embodies the precepts that no person is above the law, individuals are empowered with unalienable rights which cannot be easily taken away, and everyone should be treated equally without discrimination. More broadly, it is about promoting equal justice, economic opportunity, and human dignity through our legal system.
So here's my entry in this celestial naming contest.
Our country's exoplanet should be named "Rule-of-Law." Our hosting star should be named "Equal Justice.”
Why? I believe that the rule of law and equal justice under law are our country's and our planet's most important enduring principles. They are our North Stars.
It’s why our nation’s law schools are so important to the future of our country, our world, and our planet. Maybe even the universe.
This Week’s Monday Moment: The Search for Planets Beyond our Solar System
Have a great day. Have a great week.
For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages.
My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our law school or our university.