Mitchell Hamline President and Dean Anthony Niedwiecki was one of 157 law school deans from across the country to sign onto a statement Tuesday decrying the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the results of a fair and free election.
“The violent attack on the Capitol was an assault on our democracy and the rule of law,” the statement says. “The effort to disrupt the certification of a free and fair election was a betrayal of the core values that undergird our Constitution.”
The statement notes the rarity with of a vast majority of law school deans speaking out together. But, it continued, “the rule of law is as much a touchstone of our profession as it is of our Constitution.
“As law deans, our mission is to train the next generation of leaders to uphold the core values of our profession and sustain the rule of law.
The signees represent more than three-quarters of the leaders of the 205 ABA-approved law schools in the country. The leaders of Minnesota’s two other law schools also signed the statement. The message noted the responsibility attorneys have to bring claims in good faith and grounded in facts and evidence. And while many lawyers courageously stood for the rule of law during weeks of failed attempts to overturn the election, “we recognize with dismay and sorrow that some lawyers challenged the outcome of the election with claims that they did not support with facts or evidence.
“This betrayed the values of our profession.”
The deans called for a “sustained effort” by legal educators and those in the legal profession to repair democratic institutions. That sentiment mirrors what Dean Niedwiecki told students in an email the day after the attack. “I hope you realize your personal role in rebuilding our democracy,” he wrote, “finding ways to foster reasoned public discourse; and protecting the rule of law.”