Happy Law Day

Today is May 1st. Most people associate May 1st with the holiday “May Day”. You probably associate this holiday with May poles and May Day baskets. However, for those of you who can recall the heady days when Communism and the Soviet Union seemed to be taking over the World, you will remember that May Day was a major holiday in those countries, So, to counter this communist threat, the Eisenhower Administration came up with “Law Day” in 1958 to compete with the Communist threat posed by “May Day”. “Law Day” was and still is intended to urge Americans to reflect upon the importance of the rule of law as well as our heritage of liberty, justice, and equality. I have no idea why the Eisenhower Administration ever felt that a holiday celebrating a field dominated by lawyers, which may be the most despised professions ever, could every compete against “May Day” is beyond me.

Despite that, I do believe the recognition and celebration of law is important. As County Bar President, I took pride in organizing the first and only Law Day CLE held in Grand Forks. Every year a different theme is chosen by the American Bar Association. In 2017, they choose to promote the Fourteenth Amendment. While most Americans have no idea what the Fourteenth Amendment is, the Fourteenth Amendment may actually have the biggest impact on bringing the Constitutional rights we all know and love into our daily lives. Prior to the enactment of the Fourteenth Amendment (which was just after the Civil War), most of the equal protections and due process protections as well as the cherished rights contained in the Bill of Rights only impacted individuals in their dealings with the Federal government. Those restrictions and freedoms did not apply to state governments unless a state purposely chose to adopt them in their own constitutions. Over time, the restrictions imposed and freedoms granted by the Bill of Rights as well as the need for state’s to provide individuals with due process and equal protections was imposed upon the states through the Fourteenth Amendment by the U.S. Supreme Court. So, while the Fourteenth Amendment may not, at first reading seem like a landmark accomplishment and actually kinda sounds like legalese and hence sort-of dull, history and the law demonstrates just how monumental it was. Happy Law Day Fourteenth Amendment!