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April 17, 2019

On May 1, ABA will reveal gaps in public knowledge of law, Constitution, First Amendment

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2019 — How many Americans know the name of the U.S. chief justice? Or what rights are protected by the First Amendment? Or which are reserved for citizens and which rights are enjoyed by non-citizens, too? And whether the First Amendment protects flag-burning as a political protest?

To mark Law Day, the American Bar Association will release the results of its first Survey of Civic Literacy on Wednesday, May 1, at 4:30 p.m. at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

ABA President Bob Carlson, Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and Gene Policinski, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute, will provide insights into the survey findings on civic knowledge and support for the First Amendment.

The ABA Survey of Civic Literacy assesses the American public’s knowledge of basic civic information, concepts and constitutional protections. The nationally representative poll also takes a close look at the public’s feelings about the First Amendment and their understanding of how First Amendment protections apply in everyday situations. It was undertaken in conjunction with this year’s national Law Day theme, “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society.”

“American democracy cannot succeed without an informed citizenry,” Carlson said. “It is vital that everyone share the same basic knowledge about the foundations of our democracy – the rule of law – and our rights and responsibilities.”

What:   Release of the ABA Survey of Civic Literacy

When: Wednesday, May 1, at 4:30 p.m.

Where:  The Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Knight Conference Center (7th floor), Washington, D.C. 20001


  • Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • ABA President Bob Carlson
  • Gene Policinski, president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Institute
  • Ruthe Catolico Ashley, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Public Education

Speakers will take questions after their remarks. A reception will follow. 

For media credentialing, contact Marc Davis at [email protected] or 202-662-1773.

About Law Day     

Envisioned in 1957 by then-ABA President Charles S. Rhyne as a national day to recognize the country’s commitment to the rule of law, Law Day was established by President Dwight Eisenhower the following year. Congress issued a joint resolution in 1961 designating May 1 as the official Law Day. Many civic groups and bar associations celebrate with a month of programs, presentations and events. Visit the ABA’s Law Day website ( for Law Day resources.


With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.