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Today, May 1, Leagues around the country are observing Law Day, the annual celebration of our nation's commitment to the rule of law This year's American Bar Association Law Day theme--"No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom"--seeks to underscore the importance of the courts in ensuring access to justice for all Americans. In the official proclamation for this year's recognition of Law Day, President Obama reminds us that "our courts are the guarantors of civil justice, social order, and public safety, and we must do everything we can to enable their critical work."
This Law Day, the League of Women Voters of the United States joined the American Bar Association, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the American Association for Justice, the Federalist Society, the Justice at Stake Campaign, and other organizations to call attention to the ongoing funding crisis confronting our nation's state courts.
LWVUS Executive Director Nancy Tate attended a morning press conference on the crisis hosted by the American Bar Association's Task Force on the Preservation of the Justice System. The event featured American Bar Association President Bill Robinson and the co-chairs of the Task Force, Former Solicitor General Ted Olson and David Boies, Chairman of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP. They were joined by prominent representatives from across the political and economic spectrum: Mark Agrast, Chair, National Law Day; Lisa Rickard, President, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform; Elaine Jones, former President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Linda Lipsen, President, American Association for Justice; and Eric T. Washington, Chief Judge, District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Panelists cited compelling statistics about underfunded courts--furloughs, long wait times for justice, even a lack of pencils and paper--and cited access to justice as a vital component of our democracy and our economy. Panelists noted that the court funding problem is not a partisan problem, but rather that "courts don't have a constituency. You don't care about courts until you need one. Our first task is public education," said Mark Agrast, American Bar Association Law Day Chair.
In the evening, the League served as a program partner for the 2012 ABA Leon Jaworski Public Program, which has commemorated Law Day for over a decade, on “The Courts and Constitutional Democracy in America.”