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Op-Ed: Law Day’s 50th Anniversary - Why the Rule of Law Still Matters

Friday, May 02, 2008

By William H. Neukom, President,
American Bar Association

On May 1, 1958, as the Cold War hung threateningly in the air, the American Bar Association urged the United States to honor something simple but crucial: the rule of law.

President Eisenhower proclaimed May 1 "Law Day USA." He invited Americans to reflect on the importance of America's institutions of justice, and how the rule of law offered a promise that no authoritarian system could ever match.

This year, America celebrates Law Day for the 50th time. Now as then, advancing the rule of law is our best strategy to advance human development in a dangerous world.

The American Bar Association has made "The Rule of Law: Foundation for Communities of Opportunity and Equity" its theme for Law Day 2008. In doing so, we ask all Americans, not just lawyers, to reflect on what our institutions of law and justice mean to our lives.

By rule of law, I mean four things: Government is accountable under the law. Laws are fair, clear, stable and protect fundamental personal and property rights. Laws are enacted, enforced and administered in a way that is accessible, fair and efficient. And laws are upheld by diverse, competent, independent and ethical law enforcement agents, advocates and umpires. More »

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