Senator Chris Van Hollen (D.-Md.)(L’90) Speaks at Luncheon for Washington, D.C., Alumni

May 18, 2017

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)(L'90) addresses Georgetown Law alumni at the Hotel Monaco in Washington, D.C., on May 17.

“All of us know, at the end of the day…it is the rule of law that stands between us and the exercise of arbitrary power in the United States of America,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)(L’90) to the lawyers gathered for Georgetown Law’s Washington, D.C., Alumni Luncheon on May 17. “And at this moment, our key principles and many of our key institutions are being tested.”

Speaking hours before a special counsel was named to oversee the Russia investigation, Van Hollen urged the appointment of a special counsel, citing Russian interference in the November 2016 U.S. elections, the ongoing FBI investigation into possible collusion, the firing of FBI Director Jim Comey and news of the Comey memo regarding the Michael Flynn investigation.

“I have no idea where these facts will lead, and I think anybody who is not directly involved in the investigation cannot say as of now what may or may not happen. But I hope that all Americans, especially lawyers…should agree that it’s important for us to have a nonpartisan investigation that gets to the root of this issue. It’s important to our democracy, it’s important to our institutions.” Later he added: “It is important that we pursue this not as partisans but as patriots.”

Access to justice

As Van Hollen noted at the outset of his 30-minute speech, the words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are enshrined above the portico at the Supreme Court. “If you think about the story of America…it’s the story of the struggle to make those words more real in our country in every day life,” the senator said, noting that that was the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement, the Labor Rights Movement and more. “All trying to move us closer to building a more perfect union — trying to make reality in America closer to the promise of equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity.”

Equal justice resounded in the senator’s remarks about funding for the Legal Services Corporation, eliminated in the 2018 budget. “The motto, equal justice under law means nothing without access to justice…,” Van Hollen said. “I know everybody in this room is committed to that goal.”

Van Hollen is one of 15 Georgetown Law alumni currently serving in Congress, the fifth Law Center alum to serve in the U.S. Senate and one of three congressional alumni now representing Maryland (he is also a Hoya parent). He addressed the same luncheon a decade ago as a congressman, noted Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor, who introduced the event. “Who knows what position [the senator] will have the next time he addresses this group.”