May 1 is Law Day in the United States, and
Bellingham will be celebrating throughout the month with educational sessions
for 8th grade students from Whatcom Middle School and Fairhaven Middle School.
This year’s Law Day theme is “Separation of
Powers: Framework for Freedom.” The U.S. Constitution established a
system of government with distinct and Independent branches – legislative,
executive, and judicial. It gave Congress, the Presidency, and a Supreme Court
separate and distinct powers so that these three separate branches share power
and serve as checks on the powers of others.
“Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,”
James Madison explained in the Federalist 51, because he believed that the
Constitution’s principles of separation of powers and checks and balances
preserve political liberty. By preventing any one branch from becoming too
powerful, they provide a framework for freedom.
Law Day is an annual commemoration first held in
1957 when American Bar Association President Charles Rhynes envisioned a
special national day to mark our nation’s commitment to the rule of law.
The following year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Law Day
Proclamation. Law Day was made official in 1961 when Congress issued a
joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day.