If you claim an extra 3 feet of your neighbor’s property as yours, he has recourse through civil court. If he covets your backyard grill and murders you while he’s stealing it, the wheels of justice take a different turn.
From fence-line squabbles to criminal acts, our system works. It isn’t without flaws. Our country’s legal evolution hasn’t always been easy to watch, but it belongs to us. We’re responsible for its success and culpable for its mistakes.
For example, you’re not really a land-grabber, and your neighbor doesn’t even like barbecue. Still, we should all take pause on May 1, and observe Law Day with sincere appreciation for our liberties and our boundaries.
Only a lawyer could come up with the idea to celebrate our judicial system. ABA President Charles Rhyne proposed Law Day in 1957, and President Eisenhower put it on the calendar a year later.
Since then, the observance has fostered a variety of outreach programs and focused on important legal themes. School children learn through interactive activities, and private and public organizations participate with open forums encouraging community input.
This might all seem a little dry, but consider past topics: equal justice for all, the historic foundations of our freedoms and the democratic power of a single vote. We don’t intentionally take our justice system for granted. It’s there when we need it to settle disputes, and it doles out punishment when required.
Does Lady Justice always stand blind to prejudice, circumstance or corruption? No, because she’s only as perfect as her creators are. Each one of us is ultimately responsible for refining the edge on her sword. Every vote we cast fine-tunes the balance of her scales.
Our nation’s democratic foundation stands on laws that we pass and judicial standards that we set. As one of the few truly free nations on earth, we’ve done a pretty good job. On Law Day, let’s celebrate our progress without losing sight of how much better we can do.