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University of Maryland School of Law

Baltimore, MD

Thank you very much for this humbling and undeserved honor.

To Justice Sotomayor, welcome to Maryland.  It’s an honor for our State, and our law school, to be able to host you here today.

To Senator Cardin, thank you for your leadership. I also see that your predecessor, Senator Sarbanes is with us, as well as Chief Judge Bell and so many members of the judiciary, colleagues in government and the law. And most importantly, fellow citizens.

To the students, faculty, administrators, and alumni – in particular Dr. Jay Perman, Dean Phoebe Haddon, Associate Dean Teresa LaMaster, and Chairwoman Christine Edwards, thank you very much for today’s honor, and for all that you do for our State.

To Bill Carey and Frank Carey – thank you for your generosity and civic-mindedness.

I remember well my very first day of law school when all of us assembled together for the first time as a class of aspiring lawyers in this very historic space.

From our earliest days as a State, we have committed ourselves to the work of justice,… the constant work of perfecting and nurturing the integrity, the fairness, and the virtue of our relationships with one another, under the law, in the context of community.

Members of Maryland’s legal community embrace this work every day, not only as lawyers, but as citizens.  From the more than 1,200 attorneys who have agreed to step forward and offer pro-bono legal services to families at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure – to the men and women who write, call and meet with their legislators and other elected representatives in the cause of access to justice.

The important work of justice continues with every class, every generation here at the Francis King Carey School of Law.

The students, faculty and alumni of this school know that the future is not some sort of lottery ticket.  Instead we see it as something to be created, worked for, sought after, and — to the highest degree that this world allows — achieved.  It is work symbolized by the scales of justice — work that requires a spirit of moderation, a constant balancing of objective truths,… work made real, not by rigid ideology and inflexibility, but by men and women who seek honestly together.

Our State therefore needs this law school.  We need your leadership.  We need your excellence.  And we need your service.  We need your work.

The great challenges we face as a people – job creation, education, environmental sustainability, public safety – can only be met and overcome by tending to our relationships with one another, and by embracing, as individuals, the most noble responsibilties of citizenship.

The late Judge Learned Hand, wrote that “a society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone, no court can save,… a society where that spirit flourishes, no court need save,…[and] a society which evades its responsibility by thrusting upon the courts the nurture of that spirit, that spirit in the end will perish.”

Thank you, once again, for this tremendous honor. And thank you more importantly for nuturing the spirit of justice, moderation, and balance upon which the life of a great republic depends.

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