By Aundrea Snyder, ANAD Legal OfficeApril 18, 2019
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Celebrated each May 1, Law Day recognizes and celebrates our nation's commitment to the rule of law.
Each year the American Bar Association designates a theme for Law Day, this year the theme is "Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society."
As Americans, we enjoy the liberties of free speech, free press and free society, which are provided by the First Amendment to the Constitution.
However, a 2017 survey conducted by the Annenburg Public Policy Center found that over one-third of Americans could not identify any of the freedoms provided for in the First Amendment.
Law Day provides an excellent opportunity for us to stop and reflect on these freedoms we often take for granted.
The First Amendment right to free speech allows us to share our opinions in many ways.
Although these rights are not unlimited -- for example, employers can insist on certain professional standards at work and fighting words are not protected -- the Supreme Court has upheld a wide range of protected speech. Their rulings have allowed students wearing black bracelets to school to protest a war, silence, offensive expressions and internet posts.
In recognizing the importance of this freedom, founding father Ben Franklin said, "Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech."
According to a 2017 Freedom House report, only 13 percent of the world's population enjoys a free press.
Americans can publish and read information that is not controlled by our government.
At a time when the press is criticized and its credibility questioned -- interestingly, through exercise of the First Amendment right to free speech -- we should remember that free press is a cornerstone of representative government.
Famous correspondent Walter Cronkite observed, "Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy."
The concept of a free society means that with the rights of citizens comes responsibilities.
Some of those duties include respecting the rights, beliefs and opinions of others; staying informed on issues affecting our community; and participating in the democratic process.
Freedom of speech and freedom of press allow us to be active and informed citizens, by providing us with information we can use as we live our daily lives and when we elect our government representatives.
By increasing our understanding of the privileges of freedom of speech and freedom of the press which we enjoy, we can better appreciate our free society, our country and its blessings of liberty.