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May 1 Is 'Law Day USA' (No, We Didn't Make This Up)

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

May 1 is "Law Day, U.S.A." Believe it or not, this is an actual federally recognized tribute that's been around for decades.

As many presidents have done before, President Barack Obama today proclaimed May 1 to be Law Day, in recognition of the "institutions that uphold the rule of law in America."

Still not convinced? Here's some more proof that Law Day is legit:

Enshrined in Federal Law

Like many other federally recognized holidays, Congress has written Law Day into federal law. Getting down to specifics, the holiday is actually designated as "Law Day, U.S.A.," and its existence was affirmed in the U.S. Code on April 7, 1961.

President Dwight Eisenhower began the recognition of Law Day by proclamation in 1958, and federal law requests each president make an annual Law Day proclamation. In this proclamation, the president shall ask for the American flag to be displayed on all government buildings and invite Americans to have "appropriate ceremonies."

So who came up with the idea of Law Day in the first place?

Birth and Celebration of Law Day

The Library of Congress notes that Law Day was the brainchild of American Bar Association President Charles S. Rhyne in 1957, who "envisioned a special day for celebrating our legal system." Since then, the ABA has created a new theme each year for celebrating each Law Day.

For 2014, Law Day's theme is "American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters" -- focusing on the advances and foundations of voting rights in this nation. In Washington, D.C., the ABA is hosting various speakers and events centered on voting, including key players in the "Rock the Vote" campaign.

Do You Get Law Day Off?

So does this mean you take Law Day off as a holiday from work? Alas, the law won't help you if you attempt this.

Public and private employers are not required in any fashion to give you a paid day off in recognition of Law Day. That isn't to say that your employer couldn't be convinced to start making it a paid holiday, in the same way most employers have done with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

If that doesn't work, just take a moment to consider the lawyers and legal professionals in your life. And remember that because of people like them, we have legal recognition of Law Day -- an annual tribute that we didn't make up.

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