In Abrams Lecture, NC Attorney General Josh Stein emphasizes power of public service to preserve democracy

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein emphasized the continuing fight to preserve democracy and the separation of powers in government, as he delivered the 27th annual Attorney General Robert Abrams Public Service Lecture on September 11. Stein discussed taking drug companies and pharmacy chains to court for their role in fueling the opioid crisis, as well as litigation against e-cigarette manufacturers over a boom in teen vaping. Elected North Carolina’s attorney general in 2016 and again in 2020, Stein is running for North Carolina’s governorship in 2024.

Josh Stein
Josh Stein

The Abrams Lecture, named after former New York attorney general Robert Abrams ’63, is delivered annually at NYU Law by a prominent public servant. As AG, Abrams was known for his activism and consumer advocacy, and served as president of the National Association of Attorneys General from 1988 to 1989. “For the last 27 years, this lecture has been—and continues to be—a hallmark event celebrating our public servants and their dedication to the rule of law,” said Dean Troy McKenzie ’00, Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law, in his opening remarks. 

Watch the video of the event:

Selected remarks by Josh Stein:

“What the focus of people who believe in democracy is, is to prove the thesis that good organizing can defeat a bad gerrymander. Our entire system of government is designed to protect people against a single party, politician, or branch of government aggregating too much power, because we know that too much power corrupts.” 

“You do not have to see eye to eye with someone on everything in order to work with them on some things…I genuinely believe that is how our government is supposed to work.” 

“When you do take your [bar] exam and pass it, you’ll get admitted to the bar and you’ll swear an oath. In most states, that oath will require you to swear to support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States, and those of the state where you practice. That oath will undergird whatever type of law you pursue. So you not only zealously defend your clients, but also zealously defend our constitution and our democracy, because the work to align our country more closely to our founding and governing principles is never-ending.” 

Posted on September 22, 2023