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Congressman Scott Addresses Graduates at Commencement 2019

Scott ended with words of hope for the graduating class of 2019: “I can’t wait to see the best that is in all of you.”

Photograph by Caitlin Cunningham

Addressing the Boston College Law School Class of 2019, Robert C. Scott ’73, United States Representative for the Third Congressional District of Virginia, urged the graduates to “always remember that progress is a result of consistent commitment to hard work and a focus on priorities.”

Congressman Scott quoted Martin Luther King, Jr in saying “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Rep. Bobby Scott
Rep. Bobby Scott

“In your life, both personally and professionally,” Scott said, “you will be tempted to choose the easier path. But when faced with the temptation to take the easier route, I hope you remember the Jesuit principles that Boston College Law School seeks to instill in each of its students: public service, social justice, and a commitment to excellence.”

Scott also addressed criminal justice reform, quoting statistics referencing the United States as a world leader in incarceration. “The United States, despite representing only 5 percent of the world’s population, has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners and now locks up a higher proportion of its population than any other country on Earth by far…. As you well know, systemic inequalities continue to bar underserved Americans from equal access to education, health care, employment, and basic necessities,” he continued. “Yet, as our political environment continues to devolve into televised distractions, shortsighted policies, and personal animosity, we must be sure to not get distracted.”

Scott ended with words of hope for the graduating class of 2019. “I can’t wait to see the best that is in all of you,” he said. “Our future is brighter because you took the harder path forward.”

In his address, Dean Vincent Rougeau spoke of what he had learned during a recent trip to Uzbekistan, where Boston College Law School is engaged in efforts to assist that nation to become integrated into the global economy and committed to operating under the rule of law. “Our involvement with the people of Uzbekistan is a reminder of the extraordinary hardships that many around the world have endured in their quest to obtain even a few of the privileges we take for granted,” Rougeau said. “It also offers a warning against complacency. What we have built as a democratic nation under the rule of law is precious and increasingly at risk.”

Rougeau referenced a series of ambitious reforms that began under Uzbekistan’s new president, and compared those efforts to those of the prime minister of Hungary, who has shifted towards more autocratic rule.“Hungary reminds us that democratic institutions can be subverted from within by a head of state bent on expanding and consolidating his power,” he said. “Uzbekistan provides a counter-example of a new leader actually using the authoritarian power of his office to open his nation to democratic and economic reform.”

Rougeau urged graduates to resist becoming complacent or losing hope as some of our own legal foundations are being tested. “The ability of Americans to withstand attack from within and without depends on our willingness to approach our responsibilities as citizens with the utmost seriousness, to call out destructive antidemocratic behavior, and to support the efforts of those around the world who seek to liberate themselves from tyranny.”

Two hundred and forty-five JD graduates received degrees at the Law School’s 86th Commencement exercises, including one December 2018 graduate. Sixteen LLM students also received degrees.

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