Happy Birthday, America!

A2J with Angela by Angela Inzano, CBF Director of Advocacy & Engagement

These days, it seems like there is nothing that can unite Americans. Except maybe a love for Tom Hanks. Or Mr. Rogers. Or Tom Hanks AS Mr. Rogers.

mr rogers
Seriously, a national treasure.

But this 4th of July, I’d like to posit that there is something that has united Americans from the very beginning of the American experiment.

lorde
In addition to Lorde lyrics, of course.

From our country’s founding, we have coalesced around the notion that our justice system should treat everyone equally, although the definition of “everyone” has historically excluded far too many people. America, throughout its history, has worked to expand and improve this notion of equality and the legal system has played a major role in that ongoing evolution.

powell

Now, don’t get me wrong. We have not yet, nor have we ever, lived up fully to this ideal. From the very beginning we have carved out exceptions, we have ignored marginalized communities, we have not yet bended the arc of the moral universe entirely toward justice, as Martin Luther King Jr. implored us to.

Nonetheless, we are united in our belief that an ideal justice system is one that is fair and equitable for all. For example, in a 2017 survey, 84% of U.S. voters said that they believe it is “extremely” or “very” important for our democracy to ensure that everyone has equal access to legal help or representation.

equal justice 3
For more statistics and cool graphics to spread the word about civil justice, check out allriseforciviljustice.org.

And many of you are doing the hard work toward this goal. All the pro bono hours, the donations to the CBF and legal aid organizations, trips with us to DC and Springfield, responses to action alerts – it all helps to move us closer to the justice system Americans agree we should strive for. So this 4th of July, I’ll be celebrating all of you as well!

legally blonde.png
Wait, is this not everyone else’s favorite 4th of July quote?

As you brave the heat and gather with friends and family this week, remember that we can all celebrate and work together toward at least one shared vision of our ideal America: one with a legal system that is just, fair, and equitable.

Also, of course, one where we grill out, wear everything red, white, and blue in our closets, and watch fireworks. #America

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About the Author:

HeadshotAngela Inzano is the Director of Advocacy and Engagement at the Chicago Bar Foundation. Since 2015, Angela has managed the day-to-day operation of the CBF Legal Aid Academy and the CBF Pro Bono Support Program, and assists with the CBF’s legislative and policy advocacy work. Angela also staffs the CBF’s Young Professionals Board, the CBA’s Legal Aid Committee, and supervises CBF interns.

Prior to joining the CBF, Angela was a Staff Attorney and the Policy Project Coordinator at The Family Defense Center. Prior to the FDC, Angela was a Public Interest Fellow at Lambda Legal. Angela earned her law and undergraduate degrees from Loyola University Chicago. While at Loyola Law, she was involved in the school’s Life After Innocence and Civitas Child Law clinics and served as a fellow at its Center for the Human Rights of Children.

Angela successfully completed the Chicago Marathon in 2012, enjoys traveling as well as politics, and is a novice “foodie.”

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