You may think that the Constitution is your security – it is nothing but a bit of paper. You may think that the statutes are your security – they are nothing but words in a book. You may think that elaborate mechanism of government is your security – it is nothing at all, unless you have sound and uncorrupted public opinion to give life to your Constitution, to give vitality to your statutes, to make efficient your government machinery.***She drew from these words the inspiration to move beyond guarantees of individual rights and rise to Hughes’ civic challenge. I take from her the inspiration to do this work -- to both explore the life people gave to the law and to look hard at that “bit of paper,” those “words in a book,” that “nothing at all” that so marked her memories. It has been a pleasure to connect here with others doing the same.
*Yoshi Uchiyama Tani, “Yoshi Uchiyama Tani,” in Reflections: Memoirs of Japanese American Women in Minnesota, ed. John Nobuya Tsuchida (Covina, Ca.: Pacific Asia Press, 1994), 127-54.
**Mari J. Matsuda, “Looking to the Bottom: Critical Legal Studies and Reparations,” Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 22 (1987): 323-99, 342.
***The Hughes quote is from a 1906 campaign speech and is fascinating in its own context. It was part of a larger critique of “the public service corporations” (the Gas Commission, the Banking Department, the Insurance Department, etc.), which Hughes accused of not behaving as “public servants.”