In the February issue of Arizona Attorney, we will publish remarks delivered by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton at the dedication of the nation’s first Bill of Rights Monument.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton speaks at Bill of Rights Monument dedication, Dec. 15, 2012

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton speaks at Bill of Rights Monument dedication, Dec. 15, 2012

One of the reasons is that over the past year, we’ve covered the run-up to the monument, so it’s great to let you know the monoliths are finally in the ground.

But the bigger reason is that his words were well chosen and rather inspiring. Of course, you may disagree. But that’s the thing about inspiration: One listener’s wow is another’s woe.

Here is some of what the Mayor said:

“We risk shortchanging ourselves and posterity when we regard the Constitution as a closed book from which no further new insight is possible. Our flexible foundation for interpreting the Constitution has made our great country the strongest and oldest continuous democracy in the world.”

“The Founders’ genius lies not in a pretension to clairvoyant understanding of their thoughts at the time the Constitution was drafted. It lies in the Founders’ intent that we would apply common-sense understanding of whom We the People are, our shared history, and our shared aspirations. The Constitution is not a dead text that we mechanically recite. It is a mirror in which our better selves are reflected.”

“These stone monuments commemorating the Bill of Rights are magnificent. They are a fitting memorial for the real thing. But the real thing is not a stone. The real thing is a living Constitution that gives hope to the United States and the rest of the world, for today and the future.”

Ninth Amendment monolith unveiled by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

Ninth Amendment monolith unveiled by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

His words came to mind the other day as I read a blog post by lawyer Melinda Hightower. In it, she provided three videos that “help you rediscover your passion for law.”

Her selections are inspired, but you and I may have selected differently. She anticipates that when she asks her readers to offer their own favorite speeches. OK, I thought; let me think about it.

My first inclination was to watch a clip from My Cousin Vinny. (I know: It’s a cry for help.) But I suspect she meant a speech on a more serious plane. So although they were more recent and did not influence my decision to go to law school, I offer two. The first, recent, one is Mayor Stanton’s remarks.

The second speech is one that was uttered by Morris Dees, lawyer and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He delivered the McCormick Lecture at UA Law School recently, but I point you to “Morris Dees: With Justice for All,” the video version of a speech he delivered at Grinnell College. Here it is.

So let me repeat Melinda Hightower’s excellent question: “What speeches have inspired you to pursue your interest in law?” What speeches would you recommend to others?

Gov. Jan Brewer as she unveils the Tenth Amendment monolith at the Arizona Bill of Rights dedication ceremony, Dec. 15, 2012 (photo: Arizona Attorney, Tim Eigo)

Gov. Jan Brewer as she unveils the Tenth Amendment monolith at the Arizona Bill of Rights dedication ceremony, Dec. 15, 2012 (photo: Arizona Attorney, Tim Eigo)

 On this Change of Venue Friday, I invite you to look at some photos (below) from last Saturday’s Bill of Rights Monument dedication in Phoenix. (I’ve covered this quite a bit; see here for more background.)

And here is an Arizona Republic story on the dedication day.

Congratulations again to Chris Bliss, who spearheaded this effort on behalf of his organization.

More photos are on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

Have a great weekend.

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Arizona Bill of Rights posterIf you heard a loud rumbling throughout November, it may have been the sound of liberty.

Over at the State Capitol in Phoenix, the ground was prepared and limestone monoliths began to arrive on the site of what will be the nation’s first capitol-city monument to the Bill of Rights.

I’ve written about the topic before (here and here, for example), and November has been an incredibly busy month for the project and its Executive Director, Chris Bliss. Let me tell you a little about what’s going on, and point out that the effort is thiiiiis close to its financial goal. I’m sure Chris would agree that the next rumbling sound he’d like to hear is you reaching for your wallet.

For all the Bill of Rights have done for us, it’s the least we can do. When those monoliths are finally placed on Wesley Bolin Plaza, I’m confident we’ll all come together to agree, “Those courageous founding fathers had some stones.”

Anyhoo, one thing you should be sure to see is E.J. Montini’s Arizona Republic column on the monument or, as he calls it, “Arizona’s Monument to Compromise.” Wisely, the columnist quotes Bliss, whom I call “the most quotable limestone monument organizer in America.” As Chris says:

“Those 10 amendments to the Constitution are like our marriage vows. If we could put a monument to them in each state capitol we could have a powerful daily reminder of what should be guiding us forward.”

And here is where the project is as we enter the home stretch, as reported by Bliss himself:

Nov. 5: As of last week, we are within $25,000 of fully funding America’s 1st monument of the Bill of Rights, at the Arizona Capitol. This last $25,000 gift was given as a matching challenge grant for that amount, good from now through December 15th. Help us make history for future generations, and double the impact of your gift.

Arizona Bill of Rights monoliths November 2012

As of November 12: All ten monoliths have been completed, and we now expect to make our target dedication date of December 15—Bill of Rights Day.

Nov. 14: Executive Director Chris Bliss poses for the obligatory ground breaking photo on the site of the soon-to-be first monument of the Bill of Rights, across the street from the Arizona Capitol complex.

Bill of Rights Chris Bliss Nov 2012

A man, a plan, a shovel: Chris Bliss breaks ground, Nov. 14, 2012.

Nov. 19: Incredible work from lead designer Joseph Kincannon and project manager Holly Kincannon. Joseph and Holly poured their talent and passion into every detail; from the shapes, sizes, site layout and landscaping right down to the font choice and layout of the words on each amendment monolith. The monoliths ship from Kincannon Studios tomorrow morning! (November 20)

Nov. 21: The latest photo from the site (below), courtesy of our project manager Jeff Esgar of Sundt Construction, who’s put together a terrific team. The monoliths will be brought in and placed by crane on December 4th. The front trench is where the electrical for the individual spotlights for the monoliths will be located.

Arizona Bill of Rights site preparation, November 2012

Thanks, Chris. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I am looking forward to December 15, Dedication Day. I’ll share more details when I get them.

In the meantime, follow the project on Facebook, and read all the details (and donate) on the website.

Finally, enjoy a brief video, which has the comic Lewis Black explaining “why he supports MyBillofRights.org.”