Today is the first day of May. Many people celebrate it as May Day. In fact, not many people outside of the legal community are aware that there is an official day of celebration for those in the United States on this day. President Eisenhower announced that the first of May would be Law Day in 1958, and since then it has been celebrated mainly by those who study or practice the law.
Like many other officially recognized days, Law Day is defined by statute (codified in 36 U.S.C. § 113, for all those now studying for their Legislation exam). It defines the day as a time for the people of the United States to celebrate “equality and justice” and to cultivate a “respect for law” based on its importance to our democracy. Statutory language aside, it is also a day to reflect on the integral role the law has played in shaping our country and the society that we live in today.
I believe there’s no better day to ask yourself this important question: what does the law mean to you? If there is one thing law school has taught me it’s that we all have different views when it comes to the law. Equality and justice are concepts that we define for ourselves. We study endless amounts of cases and codes, but this is the time to really think about the role law plays in our everyday lives.
To me, the law is all about structure. The word entropy comes to mind. Typically a measure of disorder, I feel the word embodies what the law seeks to diminish. The law attempts to bring order to what can otherwise be a chaotic world, and creates a system that we can all plan our lives around.
The rule of law is one of the foundational principles of the American way of life. It is that principle that allows us to continue reaching towards the ideals of equality and justice. It tells us, no matter who we are, that we should all be treated the same under the law. It is only when we treat others differently without any legal basis that we begin to lose our way.
Laws change over time. No legal system is perfect, mainly because they are all reflections of who we are. We are human, and we all have imperfections. Yet, as long as we keep striving to be the best that we can be, the law will allow us to flourish. In any event, it will certainly bring more order to all of the chaos.