American Bar Association

14th Amendment will take the spotlight on Law Day

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Law Day logo.

Every May 1, the American Bar Association celebrates Law Day with activities and programs, based around a single theme and intended to celebrate the rule of law in American society. President Dwight Eisenhower declared the first Law Day in 1958, and in 1961, Congress made May 1 the official Law Day going forward.

The ABA has chosen “The 14th Amendment: Transforming American Democracy” as the focus for its Law Day 2017 activities, in advance of the 150th anniversary of the amendment’s ratification next year. The 14th Amendment has become one of the most important sources of modern-day civil rights, with its guarantee of equal protection and due process. For its May edition, the ABA Journal produced a cover story and photo gallery devoted to how the 14th Amendment was drafted and how it has been interpreted over its 149 years.

The ABA encourages local groups to plan their own Law Day celebrations. The ABA Division for Public Education, which spearheads the Law Day initiative, offers a detailed planning guide with age-appropriate lessons to help explain the importance of the 14th Amendment to children of all ages. To find out if there are Law Day events taking place in your area, check the Law Day 2017 Event Calendar. Additional resources and products are available on the Law Day 2017 homepage.

Painting of a protest march.
Cortnie Phillips’ painting “Take It Into Your Own Hands” won the 7th Annual Law Day Art Contest in the individual category.

In advance of Law Day, the ABA Young Lawyers Division announced the winners of its annual Law Day Art Contest on Friday. “The Law Day Art Contest provides an opportunity for high school students to consider legal concepts and use their creativity to express their ideas,” Latia Ward, chair of the Public Education Committee of the Young Lawyers Division, said in a press release. The contest was open to all U.S. students from ninth through 12th grades, and called on students to create artwork around the theme of the 14th Amendment. Cortnie Phillips of Beaver Area High School in Beaver, Pennsylvania, won in the individual category for the painting “Take It Into Your Own Hands,” depicting a protest march. Jose Ruiz and Hassan Saleh of Bell High School in Bell, California, won the group category for their collage “Equality to All.”

In Washington, the ABA has three events scheduled. From 12:30 to 2 p.m. Monday, ABA President Linda Klein will be joined by the chief judges of the D.C. Court of Appeals and D.C. Superior Court and the president of the D.C. Bar Association to host a live question-and-answer session. The public is invited to submit questions to [email protected] or via Twitter @DC_Courts with the hashtag #LawDayQA. The event will be broadcast live at

From 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. Monday, the ABA Division for Public Education will host the Leon Jaworski Public Program at the Jones Day offices. Jeffrey Rosen, president and chief executive officer of the National Constitution Center, will moderate a 14th Amendment panel composed of professors and the chief judge of the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The final D.C.-based activity will take place from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Naval Heritage Center, where nearly 150 high school students from around the nation will gather to discuss the role of the 14th Amendment in protecting the rights of all citizens. The Division of Public Education is producing the event with the non-profit Close Up Foundation. Follow the hashtag #ABALawDay on social media for highlights from the event.

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