The Events of January 6, 2021

A message from Gillian Lester, Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law.

Dear members of the Columbia Law School community,

Today, I have watched the events unfolding on Capitol Hill with a feeling of shock, revulsion, and grave concern for our nation. Peaceful assembly and protest have been vital aspects of political expression in American democracy since the earliest days of the republic, but a similarly long-standing tradition—one that has united this country despite its imperfection—is steadfast respect for the laws and institutions of democratic governance, most especially the peaceful transition of power following a lawful election.

This foundational principle, central to our constitutional and political order, was abrogated today by the violent siege on our nation’s Capitol and seat of government. Such acts are anathema to our democratic order and we, as lawyers, legal academics, and lawyers-in-training—regardless of our ideological commitments—have a clear responsibility to use our voices, our positions, our training, and above all, our moral conviction, to uphold and defend these principles today and throughout our careers.

With faith in our democracy,
Gillian Lester