bound by oath to it. F.D.R. initiated the
process, military servicemen and women carried out the order, and ultimately
the Supreme Court of the United States
decided upon the lawfulness of the
order in Hirabayashi v. United States,
320 U.S. 81 (1943), and Korematsu v.
United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944).
All involved held an independent and
ongoing accountability to the Constitution above all else. The aftermath of the
Supreme Court’s decisions to uphold the
lawfulness of executive order 9066 is
still playing out today. Some believe that
Korematsu has clearly been superseded;
others believe that something similar
could once again take place. Does the
rule of law supersede national security
interest, popular sentiment, or political
expediency? These questions have
SEAN DAVIS is the General Counsel
for the WSBA, a 2014 Washington
Leadership Institute Fellow, and
former WSBA Governor. He also
serves as a Captain in the United
States Air Force Reserve. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington Admission and Practice Rule 5 contains eight statements which serve as the current
oath of attorney for Washington. As you read them, consider:
• What if anything does the oath of attorney mean to you?
• How do you respond when you encounter a disconnect between the values espoused in the
oath and the realities you or others around you face?
OATH OF ATTORNEY
1. I am fully subject to the laws of the State of Washington and the laws of the United States and will abide
by the same.
2. I will support the constitution of the State of Washington and the constitution of the United States.
3. I will abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct approved by the Supreme Court of the State of Washington.
4. I will maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers.
5. I will not counsel, or maintain any suit, or proceeding, which shall appear to me to be unjust, or any defense
except as I believe to be honestly debatable under the law, unless it is in defense of a person charged with
a public offense. I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me only those means
consistent with truth and honor. I will never seek to mislead the judge or jury by any artifice or false statement.
6. I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my client, and will accept no
compensation in connection with the business of my client unless this compensation is from or with the
knowledge and approval of the client or with the approval of the court.
7. I will abstain from all offensive personalities, and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation
of a party or witness unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged.
8. I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed,
or delay unjustly the cause of any person.
been, and will continue to be, argued
and answered by members of the legal
profession, local and federal government
officials, and persons who have placed
their trust in the ongoing great experiment we all take part in each day.
We began with the example of
Second Lieutenant Jack Robinson, part
of a long line of African Americans and
others who bore faith and allegiance to
the rule of law and the struggle to make
the ideals it espouses a reality for all who
place their trust in it. Robinson’s oath
and service, like so many others’, high-
light the poignant complexities of taking
an oath—it is a momentary statement
of acceptance of a continued duty in an
ever-changing landscape. It is an oath
to engage in an ongoing relationship,
and like all relationships, how the actors
involved relate to each other is constant-
ly being defined and redefined, ideally
within agreed-upon parameters.
The struggle for this nation to “rise
up and live out the true meaning of
its creed,” as Martin Luther King Jr.
phrased it, hinges upon the acts or
omissions of those who have taken an
oath to its creed—the Constitution. NWL