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Chinn: One of the Best Ways to Celebrate America's Birthday

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iba-chinn-scottThere’s a lot I enjoy about being involved in the IndyBar. I must confess, though, that about the best thing I have been able to do a several times over the past few years is represent the IndyBar at naturalization ceremonies conducted by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. A real privilege for me this year was being the IndyBar’s representative at the annual Independence Day naturalization ceremony held on July 3 at the Benjamin Harrison Home.

Yes, it was blisteringly hot that day, even under the tent. But it was worth it, as it always is. With Judge Sarah Evans Barker presiding, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett moved the admission of 98 new citizens hailing from dozens of countries across the globe. Various comments were delivered to mark the occasion, with some of the most interesting coming from Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, who was himself sworn in as a citizen just a few years ago, and from Yemane Gessesse, a Cummins engineer and member of the class of new citizens. There are a lot of moments during these events that tug at your heart and induce mist in your eyes, like when the eldest new citizen is provided a flag that’s flown over the U.S. Capitol and when the youngest new citizen leads all those assembled in the pledge of allegiance.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, our newest citizens are reminded that they can register to vote on site and are handed a variety of mementos to commemorate the event. In our case, we provide a booklet containing copies of the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions. I was able to hand one to each new citizen personally as I got to shake his or her hand and give congratulations.

If you’ve never been to a naturalization ceremony, you should try to remedy that. No matter what time of year the event is conducted, you’ll leave with a heart as warm as a July day.

Here’s an example of the traditional speech IndyBar representatives give at the ceremonies – this one was tailored for the Independence Day event:

As a representative of the Indianapolis Bar Association, I wish to extend my Association’s best wishes and congratulations on this joyous occasion. To welcome you as new Citizens of the United States and the State of Indiana is a unique pleasure. And it is especially exciting to do so at the home of President Benjamin Harrison, who was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Bar Association.

The Indianapolis Bar Association was formed more than 130 years ago for several important reasons. The most prominent were to advance the profession of law, to uphold and defend the constitution, to develop and maintain both integrity and impartiality in the administration of justice and to apply its knowledge and experience in the field of law to the promotion of the public good. Just as the members of the IndyBar have sworn to defend our Constitution, so have you. This is the common thread we share and the duty we both agree to bear.

Respect for the law plays an important role in American society. When we are at our best as Americans, we do three remarkable things because of our respect for the law. We resolve our differences without resort to violence, using our court system when appropriate. We safeguard the legal rights we possess under our constitutions and laws and respect the similar rights of others. And our governments and elected leaders transfer power peacefully when called upon to do so by the people. We demand this respect of ourselves and expect it of our fellow citizens.

To honor this occasion, the Indianapolis Bar will provide each of you with a book with the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Indiana. The rights and freedoms that we enjoy as United States Citizens are precious and unparalleled. Our hope is that this gift will remind you of the blessings of liberty and justice that we enjoy every day in our lives as Americans.

The Indianapolis Bar Association is proud to welcome you as citizens of this wonderful country.


Interested in taking part in this heart-warming volunteer opportunity? Contact Caren Chopp at cchopp@indybar.org to volunteer.•

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  1. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

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  5. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

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