Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Law Week 2014 - American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters

By Alexandra Haddad

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” One of our most cherished ideals is that we are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. This principle is enshrined in our nation’s founding documents.

The right to vote is the very foundation of a government by the people. This year’s Law Week theme is “American Democracy and the Rule of Law: Why Every Vote Matters.” As we approach the 50th anniversaries of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Law Week’s aim is to reflect on the importance of a citizen’s right to vote and the challenges we still face in ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to participate in democracy. 

Law Week will take place this year from March 17 through 21. Throughout the week, volunteers will educate local youth on the development of voting rights in the United States. They will highlight that citizens who participate in free and fair elections can ensure the legitimacy of the rule of law. Law Week provides opportunities for attorneys across Hillsborough County to break away from their daily routines to reach out to local students through three different activities: courthouse tours, classroom discussions, and mock trials.

The courthouse tour involves leading groups of students through courtrooms and other areas of the courthouse to give them a glimpse of the rule of law in action. Classroom discussions involve traveling to a local school to lead a class or group of students in a discussion on the law and answer student questions.  Finally, volunteers who participate in mock trials team up in groups of three and travel to a local school to work with students in presenting a student-friendly case (such as Goldilocks v. The Three Bears). Participating schools are located throughout the county, and volunteer attorneys are welcome to participate in any of the three activities available.

By taking a few hours out of the daily grind, local attorneys have the opportunity to really interact with young students. By teaching these students about democracy in America, the attorneys themselves will be reminded of how lucky we are to live in a country where everyone is afforded the right to vote and how special that right is.

Speaking about the right to vote, Lyndon B. Johnson said, “There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to ensure that right.” As we celebrate Law Week 2014, let’s all remember how fortunate we are to have the right to vote in free and fair elections, but let’s also work toward the challenges we face to ensure that right.

If you are interested in learning more about Law Week 2014 or volunteering, please contact Young Lawyers Division Law Week Committee Co-Chairs Kelly A. Zarzycki (kzarzycki@slk-law.com) or Amy Nath (amy.nath@baycare.org).