In 1961, Congress officially designated May 1 as Law Day (36 U.S.C.113). Each year, the American Bar Association selects a theme for the Law Day celebration. This year’s theme is Realizing the Dream: Equality for All:
The promise of equality under the law is what has made America a beacon to other nations. It is a pledge clearly set forth in the Declaration of Independence and in the opening words of the Preamble of the Constitution, “We the People.” It is, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, the proposition to which our nation is dedicated.
The year 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1963, during the Proclamation’s centennial, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial and called upon our nation to live up to the great promise, enshrined in its founding documents, of equality for all. Five decades later, the inspirational words of Rev. Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech continue to resonate and challenge us to live up to our national ideal of equality under the law. The legacy of the Civil Rights Movement can be seen in the strides that have been made against discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, disability, and sexual orientation.
Law Day, May 1, 2013, will provide an opportunity to explore the movement for civil and human rights in America and the impact it has had in promoting the ideal of equality under the law. It will provide a forum for reflecting on the work that remains to be done in rectifying injustice, eliminating all forms of discrimination, and putting an end to human trafficking and other violations of our basic human rights. As Rev. Dr. King pointed out in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Emancipation Day is a holiday in the District of Columbia. It celebrates the freeing of thousands of slaves in the District when President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act on April 16,1862. More information about the Emancipation Act is available from the National Archives, including images of the original law and a short video presentation.
February is Black History Month. The theme for 2013 is “At the Crossroads of Freedom & Equality: The Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington.” This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863) and the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (August 28, 1963).
GMUSL’s Chapter of the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) and the Law Library have partnered to honor these important events in American History. Please take a moment to view a special presentation in the library display case near the atrium.
Black History Month was founded by the Association for the Study of African American Life & History (ASALH) at Howard University. For more information, visit the ASALH website.
In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Law Library will closed on Monday, January 21.
The MLK holiday became federal law fifteen years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death. The holiday was first observed in 1986, but it took another 17 years for nationwide recognition. In 1994, the holiday was designated a day of service under the direction of the Corporation for National and Community Service. For resources about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visit the King Center Website.
On Thursday, November 26, 1789, the first Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated pursuant to a proclamation issued by President George Washington. An 1863 proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln established the last Thursday of November as the regular date for this celebration.
That tradition continued until 1939, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the holiday would be celebrated on the second to last Thursday of November that year (November 23, 1939). Roosevelt was responding to pressure from retailers to expand the Christmas shopping season.This change sparked controversy and angered some football coaches, whose season was scheduled according to the holiday. There was also a a split among states, 32 issuing proclamations following the President but 16 others refusing to change the date. See H.R. Rep. No.77-1186, at 1 (1941) (available to GMU patrons on Proquest Congressional)
Two years later, on December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed a joint congressional resolution, known as the Thanksgiving Day Act (55 Stat. 862) establishing Thanksgiving as a Federal holiday on the fourth Thursday of November.
In observance of the Thanksgiving Holiday, the law library will have reduced hours:
- Wed. Nov. 21 9:00am-5:00pm, References Services available 9:00am-2:00pm
- Thurs. Nov. 22 Closed
- Fri. Nov. 23 Closed
- Sat. Nov. 24 Noon-6:00pm
- Sun. Nov. 26 Regular Hours resume: 11:00am-11:00pm, Reference Services Available 2:00pm-9:00pm
Have a safe and enjoyable holiday!
Pursuant to 5 USC § 6103, Veterans Day is November 11 each year. Because this date was a Sunday, the holiday for Federal employees is observed today. All GMU Law Library services are following a normal Monday schedule: the library is open 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM, Reference Services will be available 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM.
GMUSL has a special commitment to serving our country’s veterans. Since 2004, the law school has provided a Clinic for Legal Assistance to Servicemembers and Veterans (CLASV):
The clinic enables Mason law students to represent servicemembers and veterans in a wide variety of litigation and non-litigation matters. Since its inception, clinic students have assisted over 70 clients from all five branches of the armed services, in litigation, adjudication and negotiation regarding consumer protection, administrative and military law and entitlements (TSGLI, PEB Boards and discharge upgrade appeals), family law, bankruptcy, immigration, landlord-tenant, contract, estate and entitlement matters in federal and state forums.
Students interested in CLASV will find additional information here.
In observance of Labor Day, the Law Library will be closed on Monday, September 3. Weekend hours remain unchanged.
Want more information about Labor Day? The U.S. Department of Labor website is a good place to start. The DOL also provides statutory, regulatory, and general information about issues that come under its jurisdiction, including: wage & hours, occupational health & safety, worker’s compensation, whistleblowers, and family leave. Find a “Summary of the Major Laws of the Department of Labor” here.
Flag Day marks the adoption of the Stars and Stripes by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. As explained in President Obama’s Proclamation of Flag Day and National Flag Week:
To commemorate the adoption of our flag, the Congress, by joint resolution approved August 3, 1949, as amended (63 Stat. 492), designated June 14 of each year as “Flag Day” and requested that the President issue an annual proclamation calling for its observance and for the display of the flag of the United States on all Federal Government buildings. The Congress also requested, by joint resolution approved June 9, 1966, as amended (80 Stat. 194), that the President annually issue a proclamation designating the week in which June 14 occurs as “National Flag Week” and call upon citizens of the United States to display the flag during that week.
The entire presidential proclamation is available on the White White House website, here.
In observance of Memorial Day, the law library will be closed Sunday, May 27 and Monday, May 28.
A brief Memorial Day History is available on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Website. Also of interest may be two famous Memorial Day speeches delivered by Oliver Wendell Holmes, one in 1884 and the other addressed to the graduating class at Harvard Law School in 1895. PDFs of these speeches are available using The Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises Database (GMUSL users may link to this database here). Select Advanced Search>Enter Title “Speeches,” Author “Oliver Wendell Holmes.”
And where is Memorial Day officially designated a Federal holiday? Title 36 of the United States Code includes statutes relating to “Patriotic and National Observances.” 36 U.S.C. § 116 designates the last Monday in May as Memorial Day.
On April 16,1862, President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, 12 Stat. 376, ending slavery in the District of Columbia.
More information about the Emancipation Act is available from the National Archives, including images of the original law and a short video presentation. See also the Law Librarians of Congress Blog.