Justice Ain’t a Legal Thing By Tomi Michel

Justice Ain’t a Legal Thing
By Tomi Michel


“In civilized life, law floats in a sea of ethics.” —Chief Justice Earl Warren

In the history of the United States, specifically in legal history, we can see documented in excessive amounts how justice is not merely a legal principle confined to the law profession advanced by lawyers and judges, but rather a moral force upheld by a conscientious citizenry committed to progress. Simultaneously, the philosophy of what is just and fair does not seem to originate from a single place, nor is it married to a specific creed, though it appears to be siblings with the concept of truth. A fact — a piece of information that is unbiased, true, and verifiable — is the building block of the chain that ascertains equity.

Many injustices in our country have been legal. To rectify them, one of the most effective tools of democracy, other than journalism, community organizing, voting, plebiscites, and education, has been litigation. Here, the aggrieved can fight back in the courtroom and challenge one-on-one those who have wronged them, pleading to the court for rectification.

The Bay Stater, for some reason, has typically led the way in defining what is not fair, and therefore, the influential philosophy that dictates what gets to be legislated and codified as law, especially as court decisions. As a result of battles so fierce and contentious that they have gone from trial courts to appellate courts to the Supreme Court of the United States granting them certiorari for hearing such conflicting arguments; given the importance of the question they raise and how they may affect the entire country.

In 1842, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Hunt case, the State sought to criminally prosecute the leaders of the Boston Journeymen Bootmakers’ Society, a union of shoemakers. Raising the question of whether labor unions were legal organizations and whether they could be prosecuted for conspiracy under state law, despite there not being a related statute in the Massachusetts General Law at the time. The Boston Journeymen Bootmakers’ Society sought to improve working conditions and wages through collective bargaining and strikes (assembly). Yet, the state argued that the union’s attempts to negotiate collectively for better wages and working conditions amounted to an illegal restraint of trade.

The case was appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which reviewed the lower court’s decision and the convictions, reversing them. Determining that the activities of the organization were not conspiracies under state law. Affirming the right of workers to organize, bargain, and strike. setting a precedent for the improvement of working conditions and labor rights for many, contributing to our modern landscape of fairness in the workplace.

Although I am a marketer by trade and I mainly promote products, services, and ideas to attract customers — an identity I chose for myself and regularly strive to grow into through practice, one that makes me content — I have always been intrigued by journalistic pursuits (press). As if my soul intermittently needed to document, write, and report to maintain its peace. However, in Massachusetts, we are in dire need of objective journalism — the type that requires personal courage to document, spiritual fortitude to write, and stoicism to report; the type that presents information and reality to the reader, who can rely on it to make important decisions such as voting. The type that brings discernment to the fool, that which seeks to educate society without second intentions, the one that ignites progress for the light it brings to the darkest hours; the type of journalism that pledges to uphold the best interests of citizens and not narcissistic politicians who, through cunning, deceit, and manipulation, only care about obtaining and maintaining a seat in public office at all costs, because that is the only way they can sense power. Not by guiding their constituents toward progress or the people they serve towards a “common goal”; journalism that honors its protection by U.S. constitutional law, which influences the bodies of governing laws and weighs in on the outcome of justice.

While we owe the establishment of our country to our Founding Fathers — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay — the true duty lies with We the People now, to uphold and safeguard our institutions here and thereafter. I pray my message resonates with many, especially people in my generation, the millennials of the Bay State. Individuals born between 1981 and 1996 are now between the ages of 28 and 43 years old. Despite being the larger voting base in the United States, have the least representation in U.S. Congress with everything that may imply… where the median age of voting House lawmakers is 57.9 years and 65.3 years in the Senate (according to a report to Pew Research Center), what does it need to happen for us to become a factor in civics a leadership? Becoming heads and no longer tails?


Tomi Michel is a Rumbo Columnist. He can be reached at tomi@michelpublicrelations.com.

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