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Posted by: Yahairah Aristy on Jan 7, 2021

Yesterday morning while I was cross examining witnesses, I was oblivious to the fact that the ultimate symbol of our democracy, the U.S. Capitol, was assaulted in the most shocking and horrific manner. This was an affront that has not occurred since British forces sieged and set to fire the US Capitol and the White House in 1812. This was possible because our First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly and speech were abused with appalling depravity not warranted under any circumstance. The peaceful exercise of our fundamental rights is to promote the greater good regardless of divergent perspectives, not to commit violent atrocities. 

An example of the peaceful exercise of our right to assembly and speech is the women’s rights movement in the 1970s, when women marched and protested for women’s equality. Here in San Diego, we bore witness to a peaceful protest led by California Court of Appeal Justice Joan Dempsey Klein. Our co-founding mother and also our local Court of Appeal’s Administrative Presiding Justice, Justice Judith McConnell explained to The Los Angeles Times that Justice Klein “was very devoted to eliminating sexism for women in the law…One example is the time that Justice Klein drove from Los Angeles to San Diego to give ‘a high-spirited speech’ to a group of people, encouraging them to form what would become [] Lawyers Club, a feminist bar association, in the early ’70s.” Here we are 49 years later still going strong. 

We salute and honor Justice Joan Dempsey Klein, who died on December 24, 2020. She was a true champion of women’s rights with many firsts including co-founding the National Association of Women Judges and California Women Lawyers. Let’s honor Justice Klein by demanding women’s equality with a proper exercise of our First Amendment rights.

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