As a rule, Law Day, a ceremonial holiday since 1958, goes by largely unnoticed. But this year, given the current occupant of the Oval Office, and his negligence with regard to the rule of law, the "holiday" seems to have special meaning.
As long as there was a national consensus about the importance of the rule of law, Law Day felt superfluous, like celebrating gravity. But for six years now, the rule of law has been under attack. An array of doctrines has emerged to undermine it, like the enemy combatant doctrine, which says people can be held indefinitely without trial, and the unitary executive doctrine, which insists that a president can do as he wants in many areas, no matter what Congress says.
In keeping with tradition, President Bush has issued a proclamation inviting Americans today to “celebrate the Constitution and the laws that protect our rights and liberties.” It rings more than a little hollow, though, as he continues to trample on civil liberties in the war on terror, and stands by an attorney general who has politicized the Justice Department to a shocking degree.
The less committed a president is to the law, the more need there is for Law Day, which makes it a holiday whose time has come.
Ruth Marcus has more: "'The strength of our legal system,' the president says in his proclamation, 'requires the ongoing commitment of every citizen.' Maybe that could start with the citizen at the top."
Happy Law Day, everyone.