President Dwight Eisenhower established the first Law Day in 1958 to mark the nation's commitment to the rule of law. In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day, which is subsequently codified (U.S. Code, Title 36, Section 113). Every president since then has issued a Law Day proclamation on May 1 to celebrate the nation's commitment to the rule of law.
The 2019 Law Day 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.”
The right to free speech and a free press is what distinguishes the United States from other countries around the world. It's a foundation of our democracy — yet, it is one that many believe is under threat as newspapers diminish and as journalists increasingly face death threats, detention, and censorship.
Bruce D. Brown is the Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press which provides pro bono legal representation, amicus curiae support, and other legal resources to protect First Amendment freedoms and the newsgathering rights of journalists.
Join us for a conversation on free speech and the free press — and the historical and current debates surrounding them which challenge us to consider their boundaries and resilience.