EFSC – Constitution Day Event
Articles,  Blog

EFSC – Constitution Day Event


Good morning ladies and gentlemen
welcome to the celebration of the United States Constitution it’s September 17th
and today is the 232nd birthday of the United States Constitution. So we’re
here to celebrate the founding documents that have been so durable and guided us
and created a nation that is the rule of law rather than the rule of individuals
and has been a main contributor to the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans. So
that’s why we are gathered here today is to celebrate that legacy and maybe
hopefully become more informed about the actual document itself but before we
begin our program today I did want to thank. This is a great attendance of what
a packed house. Thank you to my colleagues so many of you that brought
your classes and encouraged them to be here. We want to start though with the
EFSC Concert Choir under the direction of Robert Lamb. Please give it up for
them folks. We begin with our national anthem, you
are, it’s an arrangement that we sing so it won’t really work if you sing along
but I would love you to stand and be there with us. ♪ O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light ♪ ♪ What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ And the rocket’s red glare, the bomb bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave ♪ ♪ O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave ♪♪ Thank you you may be seated.
We sing now a selection that features piano and our accompanist Sally Cooke.
Thank you very much. It’s a medley of American songs. Hope you
enjoy. ♪ America! America!
God shed his grace on thee ♪ ♪ And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea ♪ ♪ My country, ’tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty ♪ ♪ of thee I sing:
land where my fathers died ♪ ♪ land of the pilgrims’ pride,
from every mountainside ♪ ♪ let freedom ring! ♪ ♪ Our father’s God! to Thee,
Author of liberty ♪ ♪ To Thee we sing:
Long may our land be bright ♪ ♪ With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might ♪ ♪ Great God, our King ♪ ♪ He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat ♪ ♪ He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat ♪ ♪ Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet; Our God is marching on ♪ ♪ Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! ♪ ♪ Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on ♪ ♪ Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! ♪ ♪ Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on ♪ ♪ Marching on ♪♪ Ladies and gentlemen Dr. Robert Lamb,
Sally Cook and the Eastern Florida State College Concert Choir,
can we please give it up for them one more time. Thank you so much and again I
want to thank all of my colleagues too many to name but thank you for coming.
Administrative officials, students so glad that you are here and of course
again all of my esteemed colleagues thank you for being here because we are
here today as a birthday party and oh by the way we are being streamed live on
our website and thanks to the EFSC the TV production crew. They always do a
fantastic job. Thank you for being here today as well but we are here to
celebrate a birthday ladies and gentlemen the birthday of the
Constitution. Can you believe it? 232 years old today doesn’t look a day
over 231 but 232 unbelievable. That’s my contribution to the music
ladies gentleman, the air guitar that’s just me though but yeah again 232 years.
It is hard to believe that it has endured that long and has served as the
guiding standard for our nation and for emerging democratic societies all over
the world. What I find interesting about the Constitution is in recent polling
seventy five percent of the American people say that they love and revere and
venerate this document, the Constitution of the United States. And that’s pretty
exciting because we can’t find the American people coming together and 75%
of us agreeing on just about anything. So the fact that we are unified in our
adoration of the document I think is very exciting. I know that other people
around the world in other countries they kind of are fascinated by this. You can
see the headline here maybe we’re obsessed with the Constitution but again
that’s the tie that binds us because we are very divided. Let’s not forget that.
We are very divided as a country. It is true Republicans don’t want more
government. Democrats overwhelmingly want more government intervention. We’re
divided on that question. Gun control that’s a big issue. Democrats
encouraging more gun control legislation. Republicans opposed to it. We’re divided. One good thing is we’re, Judge, I’m happy
to report we have a more favorable view of our Supreme Court 53% of us are now
in favor and support of the Supreme Court of the United States. But what has
become my favorite graph of all time, when we break it down based upon our
party identification it tells quite a different story.
As you can see in the year 2000, right before the election,
70% of Democrats had a favorable view of the court while just about 60% of
Republicans did. After the 2000 election 42% of Democrats like the Supreme Court
and 80% of Republicans liked it after the election of George W. Bush. After
George W. Bush appointed two members in 2005 the approval among Republicans went to 75 percent went to 48 percent among Democrats. When Barack Obama was elected in 2008 though magically 75 percent of Democrats began to enjoy the Supreme
Court and Republicans decided they didn’t like it anymore. When Donald Trump
was elected president only 18 percent of Republicans like the Supreme Court but
magically overnight 72 percent like it. Now kind of fascinating, we are very
divided. We the people we are divided but there is one thing that unites us and
that of course is what we’re here to celebrate today our founding document
the United States Constitution. And to help us become more familiar with this
document its history and what it means to us as Americans we have a very
distinguished guest that I’m gonna have the honor of introducing to you this
morning. Our distinguished guests and keynote speaker today was first elected
to the Brevard County, as a Brevard County Judge in the year 1998 and has
been subsequently re-elected in the year 2004, 2010, 2016 without opposition. And
I’m assuming again in 2022 thanks to amendment six that we all
voted for last election, will allow our guest to run for another term. In 2014
our speaker was elevated by the Chief Justice of the Florida State Supreme
Court to serve at the Fifth District Court of Appeals to fill the vacancy
there. In 2009 our our guest was given an honor
of Outstanding Jurist by the Brevard County Bar Association. In 2003
he was named Mentor Judge of the Year. From 1994 until 1998 he
served as Assistant Public Defender. The capital case division of our public
defender’s office, defending the indigent for their ability to have a fair trial.
Before that 1981 to 1986 our distinguished guest was the Assistant
State Attorney felon division chief. Our distinguished guest holds a Juris Doctor
from Loyola Loyola University School of Law in Chicago. Getting to know our
distinguished guests I can tell you personally that he is a gentleman,
a scholar and he really knows what it means to be a public servant. Please help
me welcome the Honorable Judge David Silverman. Please ladies and gentlemen. Can you hear me now? Very well, thank you
Professor Muro for those overly kind words. Administrators officials, trustees,
faculty, alumni and students at Eastern Florida State College I am grateful and and humbled and honored to be able to appear before you
on Constitution Day. Before I went further I wanted to thank Professor Lamb
and the the choral group for that inspiring presentation and for his
instructions not to sing along because I was ready to. The flyer about this
presentation said it would be interactive and I liked you to go ahead
and hold your questions to the end. I do hope to have some time to answer them.
I have some questions for you and I also have some, if you’re called upon you get the right answer I’ve got a protein bar for you that my assistant will hand out. As
Professor Muro said we’re here today to get to celebrate the Constitution of
the United States that was signed 232 years ago today. And technology is wonderful when it
works. Well there it is. I didn’t press it hard enough. Thank you
thank you very much. The Constitution is on public display at the National
Archives Museum in Washington DC. If you look at it today you would see a faded
barely legible set of parchment pages from the 18th century hand written in
iron gall ink with a quill pen made from a goose feather. Transcending this
fragile vessel the Constitution’s revolutionary words has pondered through
the halls of power in this country for over 200 years. Our Constitution has
weathered political upheaval and civil war. The government it established is the
most successful Democratic Republic ever conceived survives to this day the
vision of those who wrote debated and finally signed that parchment has made
our Constitution a document for the ages. The Constitution has become America’s
conscience. As American citizens, we have at various times, lived by its
Commandments, ignored its wisdom, reconciled its message to unimaginable social, moral and
economic changes and each new generation has discovered the strengths and the
challenges behind its opening words we the people. Delegates from every state,
every state except which one. Which state didn’t send a representative to the
Constitutional Convention, anybody? Yes, Rhode Island. That’s good
for a protein bar. Met at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in
the summer of 1787 to address the deficiencies in the Articles of
Confederation. A league of friendship among states that had struggled over the
preceding six years to generate the semblance of an organized government but
which had proved weak and inefficient. If there’s any
further need of proof, its difficulty in dealing with the rather paltry rebellion
of unpaid War veterans and indebted farmers, reluctantly led by whom? Anybody
know? A rebellion against the Articles of Confederation just before the Constitutional Convention.
Yes, that’s correct. Now that would have
convinced any reasonable observer of the need for change, however rather than
making piecemeal changes the delegates meeting in secret session undertook to
create a whole new governing system. One with a much stronger central government
to need meet the needs of our future country and from their labor’s was
generated the most enduring written constitution the world has ever known.
Now before proceeding further, I wanted to say a few words about the principal
architect of this remarkable document. Who can tell me who that is anybody? Yes,
James Madison that’s correct. He came from the Virginian aristocracy being a
son of a planter who owned 5,000 acres and about a hundred slaves. He was
educated at a boarding school in what later became Princeton University. Now
Madison was only 5 foot 4 inches tall and about a hundred pounds. He was a shy
and soft-spoken and a rather lonely bachelor of 43 when he asked his friend
Aaron Burr to introduce him to the 26 year old widow he wanted to meet Dolly
Payne Todd who later became Dolly Madison. Madison was accomplished. He read
Latin and Greek and he was an ardent chess player. There’s some evidence that
Dolly played chess as well and there’s good evidence that her sister
Anna played. Jeff Jefferson once referred to her as the chess heroine. Madison
would play even on Sunday indicating that he thought it was more than just a
trivial diversion. His games with his friend Jefferson were often four hours
long epic battles. In Jefferson’s library there was a book by Andre Philidor a
Frenchman who is the greatest chess player of that era. A book that advocated
a strategic play rather than the more romantic gambit that were then in vogue.
An era where pawn sacrifices were common, Philidor wrote pawns are the soul of
chess. Franklin also played chess and he had his copy of the book autographed by
Philidor. And although the records of the moves have not been preserved we can
conclude that Madison’s chess games were characterized by careful patient
positional play. He was planning ahead anticipating playing for the endgame
rather than some dashing tactical combination. I mentioned this because
Madison’s chess is analogous to his deeply insightful persistent efforts at
the Constitutional Convention. In addition to drafting the basic outline
for the Constitution he was instrumental in persuading other delegates to accept
its provisions sometimes at late night strategy sessions that involve Madeira
and rum and together with Hamilton and John J Madison was also a principal
architect of the Federalist Papers promoting the ratification of the
Constitution by the states. He also drafted the Bill of Rights. Who can tell
me what the Bill of Rights is? Yes, the first ten amendments. Tell me what your favorite amendment is. Tell me an amendment. The
first amendment, what’s in the first amendment? The freedom of speech,
there’s something else the first amendment, who can tell me what? Yes
freedom of petition that’s that’s one. Go ahead we have something else yes, freedom
of assembly that’s correct. Who can tell me another one? Yes in the far back,
freedom of religion and the prohibition on the establishment of
religion. Yes freedom of the press that’s correct.
Glad you anticipated the question. Very well.
Madison’s later concern that the limited government he favored was
swelling into a monolith favoring the wealthy interest placed him in league
with Jefferson and opposing Hamilton whose policies he objected to and who he
disliked personally. Hamilton’s picture is on the ten dollar bill. Who can tell
me what denomination of bill still legal currency that James Madison’s likeness
is on anybody? Yes, no, no, that’s Jefferson, no, no
hey you probably don’t have it in your wallet. Anybody?
No, not one thousand, you’re just guessing now. The five thousand dollar bill they stopped printing it years
ago. Now there’s one other contributor I’d like to mention, Gouverneur
Morris was a delegate from Pennsylvania at the
Constitutional Convention. Now he was a member of the five-person Committee on
drafting called the committee of style and Morris infused into the
Constitution his own vision of a strong central government perhaps the clearest
of any delegate and to the extent that he could his unremitting hostility to
slavery. Morris was brilliant. He enrolled in what became Columbia College
at the age of twelve and he was a character. The official version of how
his left leg came to be replaced by wooden peg is that he fell from his
carriage when the horses bolted and his leg was crushed by one of the whells.
That version is disputed by credible sources, summarized by one historian who
relates that Morris was known to have romantic affairs and fleeing a jealous
husband he startled the horses as he was boarding the carriage. You have to
remember the founding fathers were not Olympian gods on marble pedestals. Now
Morris drafted the preamble beginning with the words we the people of the
United States. This envisions one collective government rather than a
union of sovereign states and the blessings of liberty secured to
ourselves and our posterity would seem ironic to in light of its
tolerance for slavery. The finely wrought phrases that Madison and Morris used in
drafting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were clear and direct yet
flexible enough to be adapted to changing circumstances. The quality of
the language contributed to the strength and durability of the Constitution. For
example, had the language been overly precise and exacting the document may
have quickly become dated. On the other hand had it been overly vague
it would likely have lacked the force that it carried. Our
founding fathers were students of the Enlightenment, an intellectual movement
that advanced the common good of the people as the legitimate foundation of
government. This challenged monarchy and the other old traditions under which the
American colonists had been ruled. Who’s this Enlightenment philosopher? Yes,
John Locke and other enlightenment philosophers asserted that
using reason and logic people were able to establish for themselves a mechanism
that would protect life, liberty and property. When our founding
fathers talked about checks and balances what they had in
mind was a clock an instrument with balanced weights and counter weights
operating with precision based on scientific principles. The Constitution
produced by the convention did not include the freedoms and rights such as
freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial that most typically come to mind
when people think of the Constitution. Three the delegates wouldn’t sign
because these were not included but Madison and the other founding fathers
knew that if they did not establish a protective foundation their legacy of
Rights and Freedoms would be mere aspirations swept away by the political
passions of the moment. Let’s consider the example of the French Revolution
that occurred a couple years after the Constitutional Convention.
The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen reflected many of
our same values. Who can tell me the model of the French Revolution which is
now the national model of France? Good, liberté, égalité, fraternité right Lisa. Well freedom of speech was not unique to
America. Having the same rights and freedoms why then did the streets of
Paris run red with blood from the guillotine in a reign of terror? Our
founders knew the value of an independent judiciary one that was above
political whim and to achieve that they mandated that federal judges be
appointed for life. The judges in the French tribunals were merely engines of
the revolution. Untethered to law they were prepared to convict and execute
anyone suspected of being an enemy of the people. That phrase was used
extensively in the French Revolution. A leader of the French Revolution
Maximilien Robespierre once stated the Revolutionary Government owes to the
good citizen all the protection of the nation it owes nothing to the enemies of
the people but death. Our founding fathers were not ideologues they were
savvy businessmen and politicians. The separation of powers in the system of
checks and balances comported with the founders dislike and distrust
that they felt toward each other. In the case of Alexander Hamilton that
animosity ended in his violent death at the hands of Aaron Burr.
However being practical and pragmatic they also understood the need for
compromise. The Constitution has often been called a living tribute to the art
of compromise. One such compromise resulted from in a
legislative branch with deliberative bodies one house based upon population
and the other the Senate where each state was represented equally. Who proposed
that compromise? What delegate did that at the Constitutional Convention
anybody know? Yes, no, Roger Sherman is correct. Sherman was the
convention included of course representatives from the South where
slavery was an institution that sustained the economy of the region. A
region where it was a given that it’s agriculture would be
impossible without slave labor. If the new nation did not guarantee the
continuation of slavery there was an open question whether the southern
states would form their own nation. A compromise reached eventually abolishing
the importation of slaves, accounting for slaves with respect to congressional
representation, facilitating the recovery of escaped slaves and permitting slavery
to continue. This was a compromise with a terrible a monstrous injustice. The seeds
of the Civil War were sown in the compromises of the Constitution on this
issue. The framers were not oblivious to the failings of the Constitution but
trusted that in the future people of decency and common sense would work
together harmoniously to overcome them. As Benjamin Franklin said in his last
speech to the convention, “I agree to this Constitution with all its faults.” They
knew that the document was imperfect and would need to be changed and they
provided two means for changing it. One was by amendment, a process where
Congress and a sufficient number of states would concur in an amendment a
process that has occurred only 27 times in our nation’s history. The first 10
amendments being enacted contemporaneous with the ratification of the
Constitution. What’s the other means by which the Constitution provides for
changing it? Yes, what’s that? No abolishment, not exactly
that but anybody else know another means? Yes am I missing someone?
Another convention that a new constitutional convention. Yes put your
hand up would you thank you. Now I think that that’s suggestive that
our founding fathers were willing to see their entire creation here scrapped if
their experiment in democracy failed by setting up that other means of
of a new Constitutional Convention. Now wholesale changes were not necessary in
part as a result of the role of the Supreme Court. In a pivotal moment
in our history in the court in Marbury vs. Madison in an opinion by the Chief
Justice who is that? Judge Judy, no. It was John Marshall that’s
correct. John Marshall held it that the Supreme Court had authority to
invalidate a law passed by Congress when that law contravened a provision of the
Constitution. Writing as though it was just merely a matter of common sense
Marshall stated it is emphatically the province and the duty of the court to
say what the law is. It was announced as a matter of the court merely laying the
constitution and the new enactments side-by-side to see if they conflicted.
However the process of judicial review inevitably involved interpreting the
language of the law and the language of the statute enshrining the Constitution
as the supreme law of the land superseding any contrary law and it also
established the Supreme Court is the principle interpreter of that law
providing the court with the authority to adapt, to expand, to constrict the
meaning of the Constitution to the circumstances as presented in each
case. By this process of judicial review the Supreme Court has interpreted the
Constitution in ways that have profoundly impacted our country. I’d like
to review with you just a few of those landmark Supreme Court
decisions. The Supreme Court addressed the unresolved slavery issue in the case
of Dred Scott versus Sanford in an opinion by Chief Justice Roger Tawney in
1857 the court ruled that a slave would not be declared free even though he had
resided in a free state and a territory that had prohibited slavery.
Tawney concluded that African Americans could never be citizens of the United
States and the Missouri Compromise which had excluded slavery from northern
states and western territories was unconstitutional. That decision added
fuel to the sectional controversy and pushed the country closer to Civil War.
Among constitutional scholars Dred Scott is widely considered to be the worst
decision ever rendered by the Supreme Court. It’s been cited as the most
egregious example in the courts history of wrongly
imposing a judicial solution onto a political problem. Following the Civil
War and the passage of three constitutional amendments establishing
the equality of African Americans the Supreme Court in Plessy versus Ferguson
invoked the controversial doctrine of separate but equal. To validate racial
segregation laws that provided for separate and supposedly equal public
facilities and services for African Americans and Whites. Plessy served as a
controlling judicial precedent until it was overruled by the Supreme Court in
1954 by Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka. In Brown the United
States Supreme Court finally ruled that racial segregation in public schools
violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution which prohibits the states
from denying equal protection of the laws to any person within their
jurisdiction. The decision declared that separate educational facilities for
whites and African-Americans students were inherently unequal. The courts
interpretation of the Constitution gives new meaning in circumstances not
distinctly contemplated by our founding fathers. For example in Roe vs. Wade the
Court struck down a Texas law restricting a woman’s right to terminate
her pregnancy. A right which the court held a statute which the court held
violated the fundamental right of privacy that the court implied from the
Bill of Rights and from the Fourteenth Amendment. However the court balanced
this right against the government’s interest in promoting women’s health and
protecting the potentiality of human life. The opinion said guidelines
permitting the states to restrict a woman’s right to choose in later stages
of the pregnancy. Who authored that opinion, anybody? What justice is that? Close enough, Harry Blackmun, yes.
Justice Harry Blackmun authored the opinion. He had represented the Mayo Clinic
and was attuned to the to the issues regarding women’s health on this issue
and the opinion has later been modified but not overruled and it stands as today
as one of the courts most controversial decisions. in Obergefell
versus Hodges the Supreme Court struck down same-sex marriage bans as
unconstitutional. Contrary to a fundamental right to marry that was
essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations. Religious and
traditional family groups criticized the decision Obergefell asserting that the
court again was making social policy. At the time the decision Obergefell was
rendered however 37 states had already permitted same-sex marriage or
a civil union equivalent. In Citizens United versus the Federal Election
Commission the court held that the first amendment protects the right to make
political contributions. Contributions by people and contributions by corporations
interpreting money is often the only way someone can express their political
beliefs. Whether the goal is enactment of legislation or the election of a
candidate money is often the key to competing in what Justice Oliver Wendell
Holmes Jr. called the marketplace of ideas. Our Constitution’s framers
anticipated that the forces of power, privilege and greed may seek to subvert
our government. However the court in Citizens United reasoned that in the
Internet age the public should be able to inform itself about corporate-funded
political advertising and identify whether elected officials are in the
pocket of some moneyed interest. Consistent with that view that month at
contributing money is an expression of political speech, the court later went on
to strike down contribution limits to political action committees. In the years
since Citizens United these committees have taken in millions of dollars in
anonymous dark money that comes from corporations and a relatively small
group of wealthy individuals. Permitting them to exert an outside
influence on local, state and federal elections. This money is typically spent
on negative advertising and campaigns of disparagement only often tenuously
tethered to truth. Opinion may different as to whether Citizens United
and dangers the integrity of our electoral system but
the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United has definitely changed the way we
choose elected officials. In Federalist 55 Madison asked the question: From what
quarter does danger proceed? we are at a moment in our history when our nation is
facing extraordinary perils. Increasing racial and religious animosity, the
degradation of our environment, the resurgence of potent and addictive
narcotics, terrible tragic school shootings, the devastating effects of
climate change, the violence of terrorism and the price of its suppression, the
pervasive electronic and digital surveillance, the
proliferation of nuclear weapons, the implications of genetic engineering serious dangers that invite the question
will our Constitution continue to preserve the democratic values we
cherish or will the individualism, the equality, the liberty and the justice
embodied in our Constitution become merely outdated vestiges of a gentler
time. As I pondered this question I came to believe it was the wrong question. The
question is not whether the Constitution will continue to serve us but whether we
will live up to the Constitution. Our fundamental rights cannot be taken for
granted or they will incrementally one step at a
time become as faded as the handwriting on
that parchment. Until we find ourselves and our descendants living in a country
devoid of values cherished by our founding fathers. The Constitution
doesn’t work automatically each generation of Americans has brought
forth leaders men and women dedicated to a cause greater than themselves.
They’ve been willing to sacrifice their lives and their fortunes to
preserve our Constitution and the way of life it has engendered. How many of you
been to the the Moore Justice Center the main courthouse in our county? A lot of you
guys. In courthouses you would typically see a symbol of justice. I expect you’ve
seen it an ancient Roman goddess Iustitia blindfolded holding scales
aloft in one hand and a sword in the other. The statuary relief that greets
visitors to the more Justice Center also has scales but the scales are not
balanced it depicts Harry and Harriet more civil rights pioneers reaching up
straining to balance the scales of justice they’re accompanied by their
children and at their family home in Mimms that was destroyed by a dynamite
explosion my Christmas night 1951 one message from that unique sculpture is
that justice does not descend majestically from above
but that emerges from the struggle inherent in our adversary system of
justice constitutional rights don’t come easy will we rise to the challenge of
keeping our Constitution vitals that it may guide us in these perilous times
there’s definitely cause for concern there is an unreceptive apathy
entrenched ingrained in our society where a third of the adults cannot name
the three branches of government where many people don’t read anything longer
than a tweet and live in digital echo chambers listening to only what they
already believe we are living in an increasingly polarized society where
people but people defining their residents as a red state or a blue state
the society divided to the point where for many people if someone expresses an
opinion different from theirs he or she is their enemy where the notion of
compromise so dear to our founding fathers is dismissed as feeble and
pathetic but there is hope more than a reasoned expectation that we will
overcome these dangers while preserving our constitutional values and the cause
for that hope is here in this room it will take character and courage and
sacrifice for you to take a stand that upholds our Constitution’s values that
promotes the rights and welfare of your fellow men and women I submit to you
respectfully that is your responsibility it’s a responsibility that comes with
education with learning and developing your talents and obtaining your degree
comes the opportunity and the obligation to provide leadership and service to
your community and you need to start somewhere
whether it’s handing out food the daily bread or protecting the endangered sea
life in the Indian River Lagoon or any other opportunity to volunteer to
commence your journey into the future while harkening back to the principles
the humanity espoused by our founding fathers students let me suggest to you
that when your journey ends as it must for each of us you should be able to
square off to your conscience hold your head up high and say to yourself I did
my duty I’d like to close by sharing something with you it is a poem written
by a poet who lives here in Brevard County and whose name is JoAnna O’Keefe and after I read it I asked her and she agreed to for me to share it with you in
a presentation if the occasion arose. As she wrote it more than five years ago
in a book of poetry and you might not be able to read it on
the screen here so permit me to recite it to you.
We the people are opposite sides; We’ve lost sight of the middle Where
resolution resides. If Jefferson could speak He would pick up his pen. On
parchment he’d write: Be Patriots again! Look into the eyes Of your sister and
brother. Be Americans! Respect one another. No
outside force Will ever take this land. But a “house divided” Cannot stand. Blood
has been shed For this land of the Free. Be Americans! Embrace your destiny. Be
that “City upon a Hill.” Be that Light! Lay down your anger. Be Americans! Unite! Thank you folks it’s been a privilege. We have just a few minutes remaining.
We’d like to take a question or two if anybody had a question for judge
Silverman we’d love to hear from you. Please. What does it mean to be a judge and what
what relationship do I have to the Constitution? I think the hardest part of
being a judge is subordinating your own feelings to the requirements of the law.
I mean if judges were to decide cases based on how they feel about it there’d
be a different decision in every courtroom wouldn’t there. So what I have
to do is I have to understand what that means and that sometimes involves some
research and study but then to follow it regardless of where it leads me so I
think that that’s my relationship to it I believe so that’s a
legitimate question. Any other questions? Thank you yes change anything
in the Constitution you know there are many scholars who feel that we should
have a new Constitutional Convention because we have struggled to
embody rights that were not even contemplated by our founding fathers.
The right to an education that all of you who are enjoying here, the right to
health care there’s other rights that would be important to our society today
that are not part of the Constitution. So I think that we have we have gone along
a different path by virtue of its interpretation but it maybe a good idea
to actually enshrine those into the Constitution at some point. Yes, I say another question about
originalism which is a means of interpretation that harkens back to the
the original intent of the framers which is very difficult to to discern and to
apply in any given circumstance the language that they were using was very
different from today and so I think it is an answer for a judge to say this was
just not contemplated by the Constitution and the Constitution
doesn’t address that issue but oftentimes that’s not what this report
has done as I quoted in in Roe vs. Wade and Oberkfell versus Hodges. They
have found that applying the principles that were enunciated to those
circumstances they’re only going to deal with the very issues that the the
Constitution addressed because from from our very beginning we have been
addressing, we’ve blown along addressing circumstances. We view it for the most
part as a living document as opposed to some static definition that the original
founders had. Yes, my favorite amendment of the?
Least favorite, my least favorite? I don’t have a least favourite. I
think that if you asked if you asked lawyers and judges what would they
typically say, anybody? They say the sixth amendment where
there’s a right to, yes. I’ll get just one second, the six amendment
provides the right to counsel. Right, keeping lawyers and and make tree
of a fair trial and and it has another provision because they founders do
people didn’t wanna come to court a right of compulsory process to make them
come in right. Now if the Fifth Amendment means anything here’s what it means. It
means that the prosecutor in a criminal trial doesn’t say he didn’t testify
what are we hear from the defendant eerie silence to infer guilt from
silence that’s it is part of our heritage that we’re not going to compel
someone to testify against themselves. We’re not going to torture them into
doing that. We’re not going to punish them for doing that and that’s that’s an
important part of our law. So my feelings about it and people ask me that from
time to time as I say my feelings are subordinated with the law requires and
it definitely requires that because you know in an adversary system everybody
wants to win, right. Lawyers want to win their case but the
Constitution imposes limits on what they can do and say in the courtroom and it’s
up to me to ensure that those limits are enforced. Any other questions yes no one wants to run against you. Let me
say this I I spoke to a there’s another judge a friend of mine
Judge McGee who is a judge here for many years and I was concerned with
whether I would have opposition in the next election. They said me, David what I
wouldn’t give for one more contested election. Now I think contested elections
are good and I acquired a seat by election in 1998. Now most judges are appointed and then have to run thereafter but I think it is
a good thing to have the the public have the opportunity to elect judges. I
think that’s a positive thing because if a judge is really deficient
that may well become known to the public. Now as I say I think there’s a concern
about the public being informed how do you learn what a judge, how a judge is
doing. Well it’s difficult isn’t it? You have to get meaningful information you have to really search about that and that system can be skewed
by the influx of this anonymous dark money often just negative campaigning
that for on behalf of some moneyed interests often challenging some judge,
and it hasn’t happened much in Florida, but challenging someone like a
completely unrelated issue in other words if it’s an insurance Lobby that’s
seeking to unseat a judge they may say that judge is soft on crime, right. Then
you can easy to select some case that it just ruled on where the judge was ruling
on the law and it may give the appearance of being siding with some
criminal. Judge Silverman I do have to say we have to conclude because I know
students have to get to other classes. I apologize for keeping you. Please ladies gentlemen Judge David Silverman. We also have the Brevard
County Supervisor of Elections is here to register you to vote right outside
the door. Please come and talk with Judge Silverman he’ll be here for a while.
Thank you for being here and celebrating the Constitution.

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