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Statement by Dean Ohlin on Capitol Riot

Dear Members of the Cornell Law School Community,

Yesterday, this nation witnessed terrifying moments that were once unthinkable: an angry mob, some bearing racist symbols and imagery, overrunning and shutting down Congress as it attempted to count electoral college votes. This morning, though, the nation woke up to the heartening reality that Congress had worked through the night because even violence incited by a presidential political rally could not stop our elected representatives from fulfilling their constitutional obligations.

Like President Pollack in her statement, I condemn yesterday’s violence as an affront to our democracy. As lawyers, we are committed to the rule of law. Among other things, the rule of law means a rejection of rule by brute force. In a democracy, the rule of law also requires a peaceful transition of power as determined by the will of the people at the ballot box.

In addition to being a community of lawyers, Cornell Law School is an academic institution, embedded within a larger university. Now, more than ever, this nation needs not only lawyers but scholars, students, and citizens to stand up for the truth and to reject falsehoods, including those that are repeated often and loudly, even as we remain committed to the principles of free inquiry and robust debate. I am grateful to be a member of a university dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge that is necessary to the functioning of our enduring democracy.

Jens David Ohlin
Interim Dean and Professor of Law

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