ABA to celebrate the American justice system on Law Day

In recognition of the nation’s annual Law Day celebration on Monday, May 1, the American Bar Association will sponsor programming in Washington, D.C., and encourage national celebrations that highlight the rule of law.

 “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy” is the theme of this year’s Law Day, and will be the subject of three public events in the nation’s capital: The 15th Annual Leon Jaworski Public Program and A Law Day conversation with the D.C. Courts on May 1, and the “Dialogue on the 14th Amendment” program for high school students on May 2.

The law is absolutely vital to our democracy,” ABA President Linda A. Klein said.  “Today, when it seems that we are a nation divided, there is one thing we can all agree on — treating every American equally under the rule of law. It’s what binds this nation together.”

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).

Events in Washington, D.C.

Monday, May 1

• “A Law Day Conversation with the D.C. Courts,” — A live question-and-answer session on this year’s Law Day theme, “The 14th Amendment – Transforming American Democracy.”

To watch live via video stream, go to: www.dccourts.gov/LawDayQA

The general public may submit questions in advance to LawDay@dcsc.gov or via Twitter @DC_Courts with #LawDayQA

Speakers will include Linda A. Klein, president, American Bar Association.; Chief Judge Anna Blackburn-Rigsby, D.C. Court of Appeals; Chief Judge Robert E. Morin, D.C. Superior Court and Annamaria Steward, president, D.C. Bar.

• 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.        

The moderator will be Jeffrey Rosen, president and chief executive officer of the National Constitution Center, and professor at George Washington University Law School.

Speakers will include 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 University of Virginia School of Law; and 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.

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 also will post photos on Instagram, using hashtag #ABALawDay.

Featured will speakers include ABA President Linda Klein, Standing Committee on Silver Gavel Awards member Aggie Alvez, and ABA Standing Committee on Public Education Chair Harry Johnson.

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.