ABA's Law Day 2017 to focus on ­importance and relevance of the 14th Amendment

The American Bar Association announced today its programming in recognition of the nation’s annual Law Day celebration May 1-2.

“The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy” is the theme of this year’s national recognition of the importance of the rule of law, and will be the subject of two public events: The 15th annual Leon Jaworski Public Program on May 1 and the “Dialogue on the 14th Amendment” program for high school students on May 2.

Both events will focus on the role of the 14th Amendment in protecting and advancing the rights of all Americans.

“The transformative impact of the 14th Amendment on American law and society cannot be overstated,” said ABA President Linda Klein. “In the century and half since its enactment, the 14th Amendment has safeguarded the civil rights of countless individuals. It has served as the foundation of landmark Supreme Court cases, including Brown v. Board of Education, and has provided support and inspiration for numerous civil rights laws.”

The 14th Amendment is known as one of the most litigated but least known amendments. Among the Supreme Court decisions the amendment has influenced include cases that ensured counsel for criminal defendants (Gideon v. Wainwright); ensured reproductive rights (Roe v. Wade); settled election recounts (Bush v. Gore); provided equality of marriage (Loving v. Virginia); validated affirmative action, but ruled out racial quotas in education (University of California v. Bakke) and ensured the right for people to marry who they want to marry (Obergefell v. Hodges).

Details on the two events are as follows:

Monday, May 1

The Leon Jaworski Public Program — Panelists will discuss the role of the 14th Amendment in transforming American democracy. This event is sponsored by the ABA Division for Public Education and is open to the public. ABA President Linda A. Klein will preside.

Moderator: Jeffrey Rosen, president and chief executive officer, National Constitution Center; and professor at the George Washington University Law School.

Speakers: Laura Edwards, history professor, Duke University and Fellows Research Chair for the American Bar Foundation; Roger L. Gregory, chief judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; Daniel R. Ortiz, law professor and director, Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law; Michael Tigar, professor emeritus, American University Washington College of Law and Duke Law School.

Tuesday, May 2

“Dialogue on the 14th Amendment” — Nearly 150 high school students from around the nation will discuss the central role the 14th Amendment has played in maintaining the rights of all citizens. Discussion topics include: equal protection, incorporation, equality and liberty, as well as the current challenges facing the amendment and the actions that are needed to give more meaning to it.

This is an interactive event. Students will tweet live from the program by using the National Law Day 2017 events hashtag, #ABALawDay.

This event is sponsored by the ABA Division for Public Education in partnership with the Close Up Foundation, a nonprofit organization that educates and inspires young people to become informed and engaged citizens. Participants will also post photos on Instagram, using hashtag #ABALawDay.

Featured speakers: ABA President Linda Klein, National Law Day Chair Stephanie Parker and ABA Standing Committee on Public Education Chair Harry Johnson.

About Law Day    

Envisioned in 1957 by then-ABA President Charles S. Rhyne as a national day to recognize the country’s commitment to the rule of law, Law Day was established by President Dwight Eisenhower the following year. Congress issued a joint resolution in 1961 designating May 1 as the official Law Day. Many civic groups and bar associations celebrate with a month of programs, presentations and events. Visit the ABA’s Law Day website (LawDay.org) for information about Law Day programs throughout the country.