Jonathan Swift, the famed English satirist and political philosopher of the 18th Century, died in 1745. As a final commentary, the acclaimed author of such works as “Gulliver’s Travels” left carved on his tombstone a fitting epitaph. In Latin, it says, “Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift… where fierce indignation can no longer injure the Heart… Go forth voyager and copy, if you can, this vigorous Champion of Liberty.”
I was reminded of Dr. Swift’s final words when I heard the news that a contemporary “Champion of Liberty” had passed on through this world. The Honorable Moses Harrison, late Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, died on Thursday, April 25at Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis. In respect for the lifetime of service to his fellow man, the first SIDEBAR column of 2013 is dedicated to his memory, both his remarkable professional accomplishments but also very fond remembrances of a towering legal figure who remained – despite the seductions of power – a devoted husband and father, active volunteer and loyal friend.
While THIS Moses certainly did ascend to the Judicial mountain top, he never lost his connection to what he liked to call “the real folks.” As he often would tell, in his career he worked as a ranch hand, a truck driver and a Teamster, grounding him in reality and earning in the words of the Illinois Supreme Court in 2002, on the occasion of his retirement the “reputation for commitment to justice and human welfare, to defend the poor, the young and elderly against corporate or governmental policies which went against their interests.”