Every year on May 1st “Law Day” is celebrated for the role law plays in our society and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the legal profession. It asks Americans to focus on every American’s rights as laid out in the fundamental documents of American democracy—the Declaration of Independence and the federal Constitution. The theme for 2022 is “Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in Times of Change.” Topics to consider that may be addressed on this day include constitutional change in the United States, social movements that lead to change, and shifts in U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence.
So, how did “Law Day” come to be you may ask? In 1957, American Bar Association president, Charles S. Rhyne, envisioned a special day for celebrating the legal system. In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day as a day of national dedication to the principles of government under law. In 1961, Congress designated May 1st as the official date for celebration and the custom continues to this day. An annual theme is chosen to spotlight a particular aspect of the law or legal process that impacts our daily lives.
Each state participates in their own way. For instance, the Nebraska State Bar Foundation and the Nebraska Supreme Court coordinate efforts to celebrate annually and encourage educational activities to help students better understand the role of courts in our democracy. In Iowa, the Polk County Bar Association partners with ARAG each year to give local area students a chance to get creative with the law. There are various ways individuals can get involved, one can explore the current year’s theme by reviewing upcoming bills, challenging yourself to learn more about how a specific law applies to you, expand your awareness of the justice system and how it works, and learn how laws are developed. You can also check with the American Bar Association as they organize events for students and local citizens. Regardless of how you wish to celebrate this day, knowing your rights as an American citizen is your individual right.
If you are ready to get involved or want to learn more, check out these resources: