Law Day at the Florida Supreme Court

A family visiting the Florida Supreme Court during Law Day Open House.

Marked annually across the country on May 1, Law Day is set aside to celebrate the rule of law—a day to ponder the role of law in the foundation of the United States and to recognize its importance in preserving a just and civilized society.  On Law Day, Americans are encouraged to contemplate the ways in which law and the legal process protect our liberties and contribute to the freedoms we cherish.

Law Day was established by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958; in 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for recognizing this event.  Each year, the American Bar Association designates a Law Day theme to foreground an issue related to the law or legal system.  This year’s theme—Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society—“focuses on these cornerstones of representative government and calls on us to understand and protect these rights to ensure, as the U.S. Constitution proposes, ‘the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.’”

This year, the Florida Supreme Court observed Law Day with an open house on Saturday, May 4, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.  During this rare opportunity to tour the court on a weekend, court staff were on hand to answer questions about Florida’s judicial branch and provide information about the Florida Supreme Court and the treasures in its rare book room. 

And on their own, guests were invited to amble around the public areas of the building, checking out the library, the rare book room, the lawyer’s lounge, and the portraits of the current and former justices adorning the courtroom and the hallway walls.  Especially enticing to the younger visitors was the opportunity to participate in mock oral arguments and to enrobe themselves and have their photos taken in the justices’ chairs.  Incidentally, the children weren’t the only ones who eagerly embraced the chance to don a justice robe!

Altogether, more than 100 people—including at least 40 children—participated.  The open house even drew international visitors—families from Brazil and South Korea were among the guests.  The supreme court’s Law Day commemoration was in part inspired by the success of the court’s September 2018 Constitution Day open house, also held on a weekend.  Given their popularity, the Public Information Office, which coordinated these programs, is hoping that both can become annual happenings at the supreme court.

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