2017 Law Day


WHEREAS, Charles S. Rhyne, President of the American Bar Association and legal counsel to President Dwight D Eisenhower, proposed in 1958 that May 1st be designated Law Day to cast “spotlight upon the rule of law in America, expressing to the people of the world our admiration and respect for the rule of law as the key to individual freedom and justice;” and

WHEREAS, in that same year, President Eisenhower proclaimed May 1, 1958, as the first Law Day because, “it is fitting that the people of this Nation should remember with pride and vigilantly guard the great heritage of liberty, justice, and equality under law which our forefathers bequeathed to us;” and

WHEREAS, on April 7, 1961, the Unites States Congress by joint resolution proclaimed May 1 as Law Day, a day of celebration by the people of the United States “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

WHEREAS, President John F. Kennedy  proclaimed that “law is the strongest link between man and freedom, and by strengthening the rule of law we strengthen freedom and justice in our own country and contribute by example to the goal of justice under law for all mankind;” and

WHEREAS, Law Day is an occasion of public acknowledgement of our Nation’s and Virginia’s heritage of liberty, justice, and equality under the law; and

WHEREAS,the American Bar Association designated the 2017 Law Day theme to be “The Fourteenth Amendment: Transforming American Democracy” in recognition of the numerous contributions to American law and society of one of the most often cited constitutional amendments; and

WHEREAS, the Fourteenth Amendment, in the nearly century and a half since its ratification, has greatly expanded the constitutional protections available to all through its clauses guaranteeing due process and equal protection; and

WHEREAS, the Fourteenth Amendment has served as the vehicle by which many of the protections in the Bill of Rights have been found to be enforceable against state and local government infringement upon fundamental liberties; and

WHEREAS, the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionally defined national citizenship for the first time and guaranteed that the privileges or immunities of United States citizenship would not be denied to any individual citizen; and

WHEREAS, the Fourteenth Amendment has served as the basis of and inspiration for landmark civil rights legislation and court decisions protecting and advancing the rights of Americans; and

WHEREAS, promoting public understanding of the roots of our freedom is an important component in the civic education of the citizens of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Virginia;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terence R. McAuliffe, do hereby recognize May 1, 2017, as LAW DAY in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.