U.S. Courts Celebrate Law Day
Federal courts around the country sponsored a variety of events to commemorate Law Day during the month of May, a tradition celebrating the rule of law in the United States that dates to the Eisenhower administration. This year’s Law Day theme is “Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom,” according to the American Bar Association, which traditionally picks the theme.
For many courts, it’s an opportunity to conduct community outreach. Many coordinated events with local middle schools and high schools or hosted field trips at courthouses. Here is a sampling of events around the country:
New York, New York
In the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, judges and attorneys visited New York City public high schools and engaged students in discussions of separation of powers fundamentals. They also provided a full day of activities for 11 high schools at the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse. In the afternoon, students observed a reenactment of the trial of Susan B. Anthony, in which the women’s suffrage advocate defended her right to vote in 1872. Before departing, each student was given a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution.
Los Angeles, California
In the Central District of California, judges and attorneys hosted about 40 students at the district and bankruptcy courts, sharing lunch and a discussion of the topic, "The 14th Amendment: What Equal Protection Means to Students." Also speaking at the event were Loyola Law School Professor Kimberly West-Faulcon, a constitutional law scholar, and Terrence Roberts, a college professor and author who was among the "Little Rock Nine" students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
The Southern District of Florida held a naturalization ceremony in the courtyard of the History Miami Museum. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., was a guest speaker. Students were invited to attend the ceremony and afterward observed court proceedings and discussed separation of powers principles with U.S Magistrate Judge Lauren F. Louis at the courthouse. The students also attended a panel discussion called “Challenges and Paths to Success” hosted by the Federal Bar Association.
St. Louis, Missouri
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Eastern District of Missouri hosted an essay and art contest for local students that was judged by court employees. Winners were announced at the Thomas F. Eagleton Courthouse, where students also observed a sentencing hearing and participated in a court simulation activity.
Judge Jack Zouhary hosted 40 high school students at the courthouse. They observed a bench trial and had the opportunity to ask questions of public defenders and members of the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Attorneys Office.
The Toledo Bar Association held an essay contest in which middle and high school students answered the questions, “What are the benefits of assigning different powers to different branches of our government?” and “If you had the ability to rewrite the Constitution, what changes, if any, would you make regarding the system of checks and balances and why?” The essays of first-place winners were published in a local newspaper.
Related Topics: Public Education