A Message from Ken Connor

Posted: Feb 03, 2016 12:01 AM
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On March 8, 2005, nearly eleven years ago, the Center for a Just Society published its first Ideas in Action column. The title was, "Fight for Terri Schiavo Comes to Capitol Hill," and the column was intended to inform the American public about the ongoing fight to save Terri's life after she was, without due process, sentenced to death by starvation and dehydration by the Florida court system. In response to that case, "The Incapacitated Persons Legal Protection Act," was introduced on Capitol Hill by Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) and Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL). The bill required that any individual whose life-sustaining treatment is ordered withdrawn pursuant to a court order, as Terri's had been, has the right to habeas corpus relief to ensure that such persons receive fundamental due process and equal protection of the law before their death is ordered. This is the same due process accorded to death row inmates.

As a Florida native and legal counsel to Governor Jeb Bush during the Schiavo case, I was intimately involved in the fight to save Terri and ensure that no one else would ever face such a grave miscarriage of justice. The Center for a Just Society was founded in this spirit: as a voice advocating the principles of justice and human dignity in a nation that seems to be in danger of forgetting them. This has been my steadfast goal over the past decade, to advance the cause of true social justice by focusing on the foundational idea that every man, woman, and child – regardless of age, size, location, mental capacity, or physical condition – possesses inherent dignity as a creature made in the image of God.

The central product of the Center for a Just Society, my Ideas in Action column, represented a continuation of public writings begun during my tenure as President of the Family Research Council, and was intended to offer practical information to help people navigate the intersection of faith, law, and policy. My goal was to present these critical issues in a way that anyone could understand, with the hope that Ideas in Action would be useful to people in their discussions at work, at home, and in church. It is my sincere hope that I have accomplished this goal, but now the time has come for me to pass the baton on to the next generation of advocates for justice and human dignity.

I am so grateful for the support and feedback from my loyal readers over the years, which always challenged me to improve my arguments and refine my thinking. I am deeply grateful to my colleagues Zachary Gappa and Erica Wanis, who have aided my work immeasurably over the last several years and who are two of the smartest, hardest working, and most thoughtful people I know.

Fans of Ideas in Action can expect to see our conversation about a just society continue, both on the CJS website and at special events across the country, under the leadership of Brian Brown and Zachary Gappa – thoughtful, practical young people dedicated to making a positive impact on the culture through thought-provoking writing and civic engagement. For my part, I shall continue in my role as Distinguished Fellow for Law and Human Dignity and plan to work closely with the folks at the John Jay Institute in their Executive Seminars Program. Though you might be hearing from me less frequently, rest assured I will not retire from my commitment to try to influence American culture and society in a positive way.

So goodbye for now, but not forever. And thank you from the bottom of my heart.