North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein told a group of students that an oath should be viewed as the North Star – something to seek guidance from when facing a difficult decision.
Stein spoke to eighth through 12th graders at Woodlawn School for their honor pledge ceremony.
Stein said oaths and pledges acted as guides for the times in life where a person isn’t sure what action to take.
“What a pledge is or an oath is, it’s a north star,” Stein said. “It’s where you can set your eyes when you don’t know where you are or what you should do. You can look to that north star and know where to go, so when you are considering whether or not you should do something and is it right or is it wrong, go back to the pledge and ask yourself am I honoring the honor code? Am I doing what I know I should be doing?”
Inviting a big speaker for the honor ceremony was a first for the 17-year-old school.
Paul Zanowski, head of the school, said Board of Trustees chairman Jim Folds arranged for Stein to address the students about morals in political life.
“If you equip people with a high level of education, you want them to have a good moral compass,” Zanowski said.
Stein compared the honor code the students were about to pledge to the oath he made when coming into office.
“The first thing I did when I was made attorney general on Jan. 1, 2017 was I made an oath,” Stein said. “I pledged an oath, and it was an oath to uphold the constitution, and it’s a weighty oath. It’s a weighty obligation.”
Stein said he went back to his oath regularly when trying to make decisions in cases. He discussed his efforts to sue drug companies selling opioids, starting a criminal justice fellows program, decreasing the amount of untested sexual assault kits and filing a lawsuit against Juul, an e-cigarette company, for targeting teen consumers.
Stein also mentioned his stand against gerrymandering, saying it was a threat to the most important civic duty.
“Protecting that right to vote is one of the most foundational things I can do,” Stein said. “My oath to the constitution is to protect people’s right to vote. I think the state should be protecting people’s right to vote, not restricting it.”
Despite having to make many hard decisions, Stein said he enjoyed his job.
“I am indebted and grateful to the people of North Carolina for hiring me to this job because I love it,” Stein said. “Serving as the attorney general is an incredible honor but it’s also a great deal of fun because I get to work with very talented, dedicated people ever day to try and protect the people of North Carolina, to try to protect you in lots of different ways.”