top story
April 25, 2013

ABA Law Day to Focus on “Realizing the Dream, Equality for All”


Has constitutional equality for women in the United States been realized? What are the appropriate roles of courts, legislatures and advocacy groups in advancing gender equality in our constitutional democracy? What countries have constitutionally or legally guaranteed equal rights for women and men? What have been the results? These questions and others will be the focus of the _’s Law Day event, the 12th Annual Leon Jaworski Public Program, from 5 to 7 p.m. May 1 at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, in Washington, D.C.

Distinguished legal scholars will join ABA President Laurel G. Bellows and National Law Day Chair Patricia Lee Refo to celebrate Law Day, which recognizes the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. The theme, “Realizing the Dream, Equality for All,” reflects a year of important historical milestones: the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all people held as slaves would be free; the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech from the Lincoln Memorial during the proclamation’s centennial, which called on our nation to live up to the great promise of equality for all; and the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, which banned wage and job discrimination based on gender. This year also marks the approach of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Law Day 2013 explores the movement for civil and human rights in America and the work that remains to be accomplished.

“Despite our best intentions, equality and justice elude us,” Bellows said. “Today on Law Day, lawyers are taking the lead in the fight against inequality in all its forms. We speak out for fairness while acting as the guardians of justice. It is time to break the silence and speak more loudly about the persistent abuses in our country.”

“Law Day 2013 is an opportunity to reflect on the struggle for civil rights in America and the impact that the struggle has had in promoting the ideal of equality under the law. It also gives each of us an occasion to consider the work that remains to be done to rectify injustice and eliminate discrimination,” Refo said. “As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ This Law Day let us rededicate ourselves to promoting the great principle of equality under the law enshrined in our nation’s founding documents.”

Under Bellows’ leadership this year, the ABA continues to combat all forms of injustice. The ABA Task Force on Human Trafficking focuses its efforts on raising awareness and changing the legal community’s approach to end modern-day slavery. The ABA Gender Equity Task Force and the ABA Commission for Women in the Profession work to address gender equity issues, such as equal pay, in the legal profession and in society.

The Leon Jaworski Public Program in D.C. is one of many events planned throughout the nation to focus attention on the Law Day 2013 theme, “Realizing the Dream, Equality for All.”

For media credentialing, please contact Betsy Adeboyejo at or -1039. This event is free and open to members of the press.

National Law Day highlights include:

The Leon Jaworski Public Program

Wednesday, May 1, 5 – 7 p.m., Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Flom Auditorium, Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

Panelists will discuss the role of the law in American culture at “Constitutional Equality for Women in the United States?”  This event is sponsored by the ABA Division for Public Education in conjunction with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and is open to the public.

Moderator: John Milewski, managing editor and host of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars radio and television program Dialogue

Speakers: Lynda Dodd, Joseph H. Flom professor of legal studies, The City College of New York; Jo Freeman, feminist scholar, writer and attorney; David E. Kyvig, distinguished research professor emeritus, Northern Illinois University; Rogers Smith, Christopher H. Browne distinguished professor of political science, University of Pennsylvania; Julie C. Suk, professor of law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University

Dialogue on Equality

Wednesday, May 1, 9 – 10:30 a.m., Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building, Sidney R. Yates Auditorium, 1849 C St. NW, Washington, D.C.

More than 200 middle and high school students from around the nation will discuss equality-related issues, including the work that remains to be done in realizing equality and the role of the courts in advancing that quest.

This event is sponsored by the ABA Division of Public Education in partnership with the Close-Up Foundation, a nonprofit organization that educates and inspires young people to become informed and engaged citizens.

Featured speakers: Kim Askew, chairwoman of the Standing Committee on Public Education, and Patricia Lee Refo, National Law Day chairwoman

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 information about Law Day programs throughout the country.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ 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.