...Law Day, U.S.A., is a celebration of our nation's heritage of liberty, justice and equality under the rule of law. (Not) Another Hallmark Holiday

Secretary Day. National Teacher Day. Bring Your Pet to Work Day. Friendship Day. Just Because Day.

Browse the shelves of your local Hallmark store and you'll find celebratory greetings for any occasion - from the traditional to the odd and obscure.

National days of acknowledgement, for better or worse, have become commonplace in American culture. So much so that some warranting significant recognition get lost in the fray, passing year after year, with many Americans simply unaware of the occasion or its importance.

Such is the case for National Law Day, first established in 1958 through proclamation by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and three years later by a joint resolution of Congress. National Law Day, also known as Law Day, U.S.A., is a celebration of our nation's heritage of liberty, justice and equality under the rule of law. Fairly noteworthy, that.

May 1, 2002 marked the 45th commemoration of National Law Day. In recognition, like many of his predecessors, President George W. Bush issued a proclamation, calling on all Americans to "reflect on the vital work performed by our Federal Judiciary in upholding the rule of law and on the importance of a robust and independent judiciary in our system of government." The president also sent his 100th judicial nominee to the U.S. Senate. Fairly noteworthy, that too.

The Federal Judiciary is currently in the midst of a crisis, as nearly 90 seats remain vacant at the district and circuit court levels. Yet, Senate Democrats, led by Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), continue to use partisan politics to obstruct the confirmation process and redefine — both substantively and procedurally — the standards by which judges are confirmed.

President Bush has responded decisively to the crisis by nominating a record number of nominees to the federal bench. Unfortunately, nearly half of his nominees are being held in limbo — including eight of the 11 nominated to the circuit courts of appeal on May 9, 2001 — as they are being subjected to partisan litmus tests rather than scrutinized based on their qualifications. Many are simply being refused a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Others, who have received hearings, are being denied a vote on the Senate floor.

One of the greatest strengths of our nation is its commitment to the rule of law as a guarantor of freedom and justice. However, this strength is being undermined by Majority Leader Daschle and Chairman Leahy. Rather than working to relieve the vacancy crisis in the Federal Judiciary, they choose to make it worse.

We are not surprised that Daschle and Leahy failed to heed the president's call to "reflect on the importance of a robust and independent judiciary in our system of government" in recognition of National Law Day. We are also not surprised that they failed to use the opportunity to expedite the confirmation process.

Not another Hallmark holiday, National Law Day has come and gone — unmarked and unnoticed by Daschle and Leahy. Perhaps someone should remind them that Mother's Day is just around the corner.

May 2, 2002
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