Law Day

Law Day takes place on May 1st in the United States annually. The day is reserved for appreciation of freedom and liberties and for celebration of the institution of law.

Celebrations include events put on by the American Bar Association and by local bars to educate and discuss the legislative branch, especially the court system. This may be done through a luncheon, dinner or other event that features legal speeches. Community and school programs may hold educational programs such as essay contests and specialized lessons relating to law. Attorneys, judges, and other legal workers may visit schools or library to give educational speeches.

Holiday Background

One of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s legal councils, Charles S. Rhyne, who was also president of the American Bar Association, thought of the idea for Law Day. Part of its function was to distract from May Day, a May 1st commemoration of the Haymarket riot, in which a peaceful rally of laborers in Chicago were bombed with dynamite, killing eleven people. It is actually unknown who threw the dynamite, which was aimed at the police, seven of which were among the casualties.

Believing the theme of May Day to be Communist, Eisenhower established May 1st as Law Day in 1958 to distract from the commemoration. Loyalty Day was also established at the same time for this reason. While Eisenhower saw the day as Communist, others felt it was a move against workers’ rights. The holiday is not celebrated outside of the United States—most countries actually celebrate May Day, which has evolved into a labor rights holiday.

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