Law Day (United States)
|Law Day, U.S.A.|
|Observed by||United States|
|Next time||1 May 2016|
On May 1 the United States officially recognizes Law Day. It is meant to reflect on the role of law in the foundation of the country and to recognize its importance for society.
Before President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared May 1 to be Law Day, U.S.A., the first day of May was known in some parts of the world as May Day: a day to remember the struggles of workers in their fight for better wages and working conditions. Law Day was originally the idea of Charles S. Rhyne, Eisenhower's legal counsel for a time, who was serving in 1957–1958 as president of the American Bar Association. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1 to be Law Day, U.S.A. in 1958. Its observance was later codified by Public Law 87-20 on April 7, 1961.
Some countries celebrate May Day on the same date, as it is designated Labour Day or International Workers Day. But on February 5, 1958, President Eisenhower recognized the first Law Day when he proclaimed that henceforth May 1 of each year would be Law Day in the United States. He stated "In a very real sense, the world no longer has a choice between force and law. If civilization is to survive it must choose the rule of law.". Now, many local bars and legal education associations, such as the Florida Law Related Education Association and the New York State Bar Association, use Law Day as a legal education tool, particularly for students.
Like Earth Day, Law Day is not a government holiday. To celebrate Law Day, some local bar associations hold a luncheon, featuring speakers who discuss topics such as justice or the liberties provided for by the United States Constitution. Also, attorneys might visit schools and talk to students about the American legal system.
The American Bar Association designates a theme to highlight an important issue relating to the law or legal system. The 2014 theme is American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters. The theme reflects the importance of voting rights, ballot box accessibility and voter engagement. The ABA provides resources on its Law Day website, www.lawday.org, to mark the occasion, and also holds several national Law Day programs in Washington, D.C., on April 30 and May 1.
36 U.S.C. § 113 states, in part:
- Law Day, U.S.A., is a special day of celebration by the people of the United States—
- (1) in appreciation of their liberties and the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States and of their rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under law in their relations with each other and with other countries; and
- (2) for the cultivation of the respect for law that is so vital to the democratic way of life.
- American Bar Association Law Day site
- United States Library of Congress
- Law Day 2009 (Library of Congress)
- Presidential Proclamation, National Law Day 2009 (Apr. 30, 2009)
- Past Law Day Proclamations
- Video of American Bar Association President James Silkenat discussing the 2014 Law Day theme.