December 22, 2016
An Open Letter from 1,060 Law Students to President-Elect Donald J. Trump
Joint-degree student at NYU Law and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Outgoing President of NYU Law's ACS Student Chapter, ACS Next Generation Leader
*Read the open letter to President-elect Trump here.
Dear President-elect Trump,
I believe you love this country as much as I do. Only someone with a compelling sense of purpose would endure such a grueling campaign, which will only be dwarfed in difficulty by the demanding, often thankless term of service that follows. To be sure, boldly and cautiously guiding the United States from the helm, while simultaneously serving as leader of the free world, are arduous and exhausting duties in any era. Yet the present moment is characterized by greater complexity, nuance and potential for conflict than perhaps has ever existed in human history. The burden on your shoulders – for maintaining America’s position as a linchpin of the Western-led liberal world order; attending to the needs of Americans at home and abroad; cherishing and working to uphold peace; safeguarding the integrity of American institutions and rule of law so they enable every American to achieve his or her potential; and offering light, hope and help to those suffering outside our borders – is truly immense.
No matter how heavy these responsibilities become nor how different our politics might be, I promise that I and others, will be always be here to help move our country forward, as well as to labor mightily to prevent backsliding when the need arises. One of the bedrocks of our democracy is truth. So over the next few years, as you feel you could benefit from the knowledge, analytic skill and passion for truth and justice embraced by young lawyers like myself, I hope that you will reach out.
In the meantime, you may perceive Open Letters such as this as an affront to your leadership. Inasmuch as they may represent acts of resistance, they are born out of our deep love of country, respect for our democratic institutions, and affirmation of the worth, dignity and equality of our fellow citizens. Former President Jimmy Carter recently reiterated the importance of upholding human rights at home and abroad, since another cornerstone of our democracy is equal rights and protection under the law. The potential for unequal treatment and unequal opportunity under an Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a profound concern motivating the writers and signatories of this letter. When it seems that entire communities, vulnerable people or marginalized groups are, or may in short order fall, under attack, acts of defiance may become urgently necessary.
Mr. Carter also noted, “In our democracy, the only title higher and more powerful than that of president is the title of citizen. It is every citizen’s right and duty to help shape the future legacy of our nation.” These words touched my heart and reminded me of some of our obligations as citizens. Together, we must valorize truth and protect it as we would a candle on a windy day. We must affirm the belonging of every American – including immigrants, members of the LGBT community, minorities, people of all and no religious beliefs, women, men, the rich, the poor, liberals, conservatives and moderates – within our diverse, entrepreneurial and spirited republic. We must struggle to remain open, understanding, and resilient in the face of extremism and hate. And when any of our brothers or sisters in this great nation is threatened, we must not hesitate to take swift action to defend and protect the people and values that represent the best of America. This is the fabric of patriotism, of kindness, of trust and of greatness, which we must weave together as a society, day by day.
Amy Larsen is a Joint-degree student at NYU Law and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and is Outgoing President of NYU Law's ACS Student Chapter and an ACS Next Generation Leader.