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May 1, 2023

Teaching the Rule of Law and Law Day

Ask students: What is the rule of law? Why is it important that we have a rule of law? What is the supreme law of the land?


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Did you know, annually, the United States recognizes May 1 as Law Day? Law Day was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower after the American Bar Association (ABA) had presented the idea a year earlier. The day was codified on April 7, 1961, with the passage of Joint Resolution 87-20 by Congress. On Law Day we reflect on and recognize the role that law plays in our society.

Watch the video below on the rule of law from the United States Courts and answer the discussion questions.

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

  • What is the rule of law?
  • Why is it important that we have a rule of law?
  • What is the supreme law of the land?
  • What are some examples mentioned in the video of the rule of law in action?
  • What do you think our society would look like if there was no rule of law in place?
  • Is anyone in the U.S. above the rule of law? What about the president?

Extension Activity

The Supreme Court plays an essential role in helping maintain the rule of law. The United States Courts has put together a case summaries analysis activity so students can explore how SCOTUS rulings maintain it. Find the case summaries and discussion questions here:

Dive Deeper

Each year the ABA sets a new theme for Law Day. The 2023 Law Day theme is: “Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility and Collaboration.” With this year’s theme, ABA stated, “We invite all the people of the United States to join us in rebuilding trust in our institutions, respect for one another, and our willingness to collaborate to address the challenges that face our nation.”

Have your students dive in deeper to this theme with these resources:

The Supreme Court: Balancing the Branches Lesson Plans

Share My Lesson has free, tailored preK-12 resources to ensure your students leave your classroom equipped with a deeper knowledge of civics and government to think critically about today's toughest issues.

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Megan Ortmeyer

Megan Ortmeyer is an SML Team Member and has worked in the AFT Educational Issues Department since fall 2018. She received her M.A. in education policy studies in May 2020 from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the George Washington University.

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