Law Day: May 1, 2021

Law Day: May 1, 2021

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

On the first day of May each year, the legal community celebrates Law Day. The day originated in 1957 when the American Bar Association envisioned a special day celebrating the US legal system. President Dwight Eisenhower established Law Day with a presidential proclamation in 1958.

This year we continue to celebrate separately. Next May, the Nebraska Judicial Branch will be celebrating with in-person events. 

The Omaha Daily Record asked Chief Justice Mike Heavican and Chief Judge Mike Pirtle to write their thoughts on this year’s national Law Day theme: Celebrating and Advancing the Rule of Law. The Omaha Daily Record will publish their comments (below) in a special Law Day edition in May. 

 

Chief Justice Michael G. Heavican

The Nebraska Constitution mandates open courts so that “every person…shall have a remedy by due course of law and justice administered without denial or delay.” In particular, this last year has reminded us that the rule of law endures – even in a pandemic. Crime does not stop, nor does child abuse, spouse abuse, fraud, or the myriad of other social issues that depend on the open courts administering the rule of law. I am proud of the work of the entire judicial branch in connection with this mission. 

 

Chief Judge Michael W. Pirtle

What exactly does it mean to “celebrate and advance the rule of law,” this Law Day, especially given what we have all experienced and endured this past year? There are a number of responses available, all of them real and raw and poignant and relevant to each of us. However, has there ever been a more important and overriding principle, especially in our country’s more recent history, than the need for an independent judiciary? I have had more than one person comment to me this past year how thankful they are that judges, especially our judges in Nebraska, are not political and are an independent branch of government.

The Court of Appeals has been engaged in our “College Campus Initiative” since 2012. This fall, we will hear cases at Wayne St. College, which is one of the few colleges in the state we have yet to visit. Invariably, the local high school and college students always want to know what makes the judiciary different than the other two branches of government? We tell them it is because we are independent and free from political influence. I love telling them that not only can I not ethically contribute money to a political campaign, I can’t even place a political sign in my front yard.

So, this year especially, I give thanks and celebrate our independent judicial branch of government and the rule of law.