History of Law Day

Apr 28, 2017

In the USA, May 1 is marked on the calendar as Law Day. It is a national day when the country celebrates the role of law and its contribution to the foundation of Americans’ freedoms.

May 1 was primarily chosen as an international day, known as May Day, to commemorate the attempts of workers to improve their working conditions. Though, with the span of the time many European countries continued to stick to the traditions and carry out celebration on May 1, while some other countries, including the USA, started to observe significant to their nation Labor Day on the first Monday of September.

The idea to celebrate Law Day belongs to Charles S. Rhyne, the former president of the American Bar Association. He was a legal counsel of President Eisenhower in 1957-1958. Rhyne offered to celebrate Law Day to recognize the US legal system. Since Law Day was proclaimed as a national day by President Eisenhower in 1958, it was stated that henceforth May 1 would be the date to observe it. Law Day has become a reminder for everyone to appreciate the virtues the American nation has, the equality and justice under the law in the relations with each other and other countries and to cultivate the respect for law necessary for the maintenance of the democratic society.

Law Day Festivals and Celebrations

Although Law Day is not distinguished by huge festivals and celebrations, nor is it a government holiday, this day is full of programs organized and held by local bar associations and courts. Annually, the American Bar Association chooses the topic for Law Day events and publishes lesson plans and classroom programs according to the theme of Law Day. The holiday is widely used as a legal education tool to raise the students’ awareness of the American legal system.
For example, the American Bar Association’s topic for 2012 was “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom,” in 2014 – “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters,” in 2017, the theme will be “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy.”

There is also a tradition, which was established by President Eisenhower in 1958 and is observed by every President till present time: to issue an annual Law Day Proclamation. Each Proclamation is aimed at discussing the American rights and American law and stresses “the importance of the recognition of the rule of law as supreme” as in Eisenhower’s Proclamation; calls for “struggle to defend the way of life” in Kennedy’s Proclamation; aspires to “fuller awareness of the importance of respect for law” in Johnson’s Proclamation; advocates to “make the country a beacon of liberty” in Reagan’s Proclamation; celebrates “the nation’s commitment to the rule of law and the equality under the law” in Obama’s Proclamation.

Broaden your outlook and learn about the origin and celebrations of our country’s national holidays!