I was flipping around the TV Saturday night and stopped at CSpan, of all channels, because of the incongruous image of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wearing a lei. It turns out he was the keynote speaker at the American Bar Association's annual conference/luau in Hawaii this year. Once I got past the lei, and actually started listening to what he was saying, I really liked it. A fascinating point he made, for example, is that when people in third world countries think of the law, they think of corruption, extortion, and persecution. When Americans think of the law, they think of a system that allows society to continue in a peaceful manner. Or, in his words: "For us, law is a liberating force. It's a promise, it's a covenant that says you can hope, you can dream, you can dare, you can plan." And: "Americans must understand that if the rules of law have meaning, such as hope and inspiration for the rest of the world, it must be coupled with the opportunity to improve human existence."
Makes sense to me. He also pointed out three things that make a healthy society, under the rule of law - "it must be binding on all government officials, it must respect the dignity, equality and human rights of every person, and it must guarantee people the right to enforce the law without fear of retaliation." (Source: AP)
Here's the video. Definitely worth a look (Notice the lei? I've never seen a lei look more out of place...).
p.s. Slate has an interesting take on the speech.
p.p.s. C-Span's website needs some work...