Protecting democracy and election integrity is essential

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American Bar Association Task Force for American Democracy Goals
American Bar Association Task Force for American Democracy Goals

Capital News Service

DETROIT – Each lawyer takes an oath, the first clause of which is to swear to “support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Michigan.” 

The preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility for attorneys – our code of ethics – makes the extent of this obligation crystal clear: “As a public citizen, a lawyer should seek improvement of the law, access to the legal system, the administration of justice and the quality of service rendered by the legal profession.

“In addition, a lawyer should further the public’s understanding of and confidence in the rule of law and the justice system because legal institutions in a constitutional democracy depend on popular participation and support to maintain their authority.” 

Lawyers take this seriously. 

The American Bar Association, the largest and most trusted organization of lawyers in our country, has committed itself to this cause. 

President Mary Smith organized the Task Force for American Democracy to bolster voter confidence in elections by safeguarding the integrity and nonpartisan administration of elections and by supporting election workers and officials.

Its mission also includes educating Americans on democracy and the rule of law and why they are foundational to every aspect of American lives and suggesting ideas for improving and strengthening our democracy and our elections.

Critically, the task force is both bipartisan and nonpartisan, chaired by former U.S Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson, former federal Court of Appeals Judge J. Michael Luttig, and former ABA president William Ide.

On March 15, Detroit hosted a unique and special event at Wayne State University Law School – “Taking the Next Step: Ensuring Trusted Elections and Civics for Michiganders.” 

Over 200 community leaders – lawyers, teachers, county clerks and other civic leaders, faith leaders and journalists – registered to both learn and be heard. 

In addition, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson spoke on the extraordinary reliability and security surrounding the election process, along with the challenges of combatting disinformation. National leaders in election integrity, several county clerks and the former head of Michigan’s Elections Division addressed how safe our elections are, how they continue to strive for improvement and how local leaders can reinforce fellow Michiganders’ faith in the system. 

Hand in hand with election integrity is civics education and professionalism: Only if our citizens know basic civics can they best defend our democratic government. 

From the Rev. Wendell Anthony to business leader Gary Torgow, attendees heard how we all need to unite – from the pulpit to the boardroom – to defeat the forces that might threaten our cherished yet ever-fragile form of government.

As John Adams said, “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right and a desire to know.”

But then the real magic happened at the event.

Community leaders gathered in small breakout groups to share thoughts, connect and report back on ways to move forward.

The sessions were designed to ensure that discussions would involve a diversity of opinions and professions, with at least one election administrator, faith leader, business leader, community leader, lawyer, judge, academic, civic educator and representative of civic-oriented organizations. 

Overwhelming themes included the need to meet people where they are – to engage on multiple fronts – the importance of civic education, transparency of the process and focusing on ways to encourage citizens to participate in the process.

It was our distinct pride to host this event in our great state and to bring this extraordinary assemblage to empower and learn from our incredible leaders.

The best way to get others involved is to get involved ourselves, and there are many ways our citizens can do that, whether by serving as a poll worker or supporting organizations like Keep Our Republic and many others committed to this cause. 

That is because if we want to make our system better, we all need to contribute.

The event can be found at

Dennis Archer is a former mayor of Detroit and former Michigan Supreme Court justice. Daniel D. Quick is president of the State Bar of Michigan.

Dennis Archer is the former mayor of Detroit and Michigan Supreme Court justice.

Dickinson Wright

Dennis Archer is the former mayor of Detroit and Michigan Supreme Court justice.
Daniel D. Quick is president of the State Bar of Michigan.

Dickinson Wright

Daniel D. Quick is president of the State Bar of Michigan.

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