“Separation of Powers: Framework for Freedom” is the theme of this year’s Law Day, which has grown from one day (May 1) when it was envisioned in 1957 by then ABA President Charles S. Rhyne to weeks of events conducted by bar associations, courts, schools, and other organizations to celebrate the rule of law.
In her Law Day message, ABA President Hilarie Bass emphasized that even though the phrase “separation of powers” does not appear anywhere in the text of the U.S. Constitution, it is likely “one of the most important concepts in understanding how the U.S. government is designed to defend the liberties that Americans had fought the Revolutionary War to achieve.”
The framers, she explained, created a national government consisting of three branches – executive, legislative, and judicial − that were to be separate from each other and retain distinct powers without any branch having too much power. She emphasized, however, that a workable structure for the government alone is not sufficient to protect the rights and liberties of the people. “For that to occur requires an engaged citizenry,” she said, urging individuals to become informed and involved.
Programs celebrating Law Day in Washington, D.C., included a dialogue with high school students, a discussion with the law librarian of Congress, and the 16th annual Leon Jaworski Public Program, which featured a debate about whether separation of powers is essential to the preservation of political liberty.