Remarks on Signing Proclamation 4931, Proclaiming Law Day U.S.A., 1982

April 16, 1982

The President. It's a particular privilege for me to sign this year's proclamation of Law Day, marking the 25th annual observance of the rule of law in America. Any progress that our generation has brought to our people and to the world rests on the foundation of law and justice laid by earlier generations of Americans, beginning with those courageous, far-sighted individuals who two centuries ago had the faith to believe that men and women could live in freedom under law. They also had the wisdom and judgment to craft a system of government in which that faith would not only survive but flourish. In our courts, our Congress, our Federal and State attorneys general and in the private bar, we see daily that law remains the cornerstone of the freedom that we've been given. And we bear a solemn obligation to preserve it.

Our Declaration of Independence begins with an appeal to the laws of nature and of nature's God. Our Constitution proclaims that to establish justice shall be among the first of our priorities. And our history since has been replete with great men of law from Webster to Lincoln, Marshall to Holmes, who've played such major roles in our public life.

So, this is the heritage that we honor on May 1st of this year, as we have on the first of May for a quarter of a century. In other parts of the world, May 1st is used for a different kind of celebration -- a forced, unnatural observance of a system that promises a freedom it systematically denies, proclaims justice while practicing tyranny, and uses what it calls law as little more than a thin veneer for the edicts of a totalitarian elite. We can and should be grateful to God that such is not true in America.

And I shall now sign the proclamation.

[At this point, the President signed the proclamation.]

Reporter. Mr. President, is there any encouraging news from Secretary Haig this morning?

The President. I don't know whether any reports have come in yet this morning. I haven't been in the office; I've been over there at another affair that's going on in the State Dining Room. So I'll go in and be finding out now.

Q. It sounds like your talk with President Galtieri yesterday was encouraging?

The President. Yes. He called me, and he expressed over and over again his desire for a peaceful solution.

Q. Within the framework of 502, sir?

The President. Yes, that's what he said.

Note: The President spoke at 1:34 p.m. at the signing ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House. The ceremony was attended by the Vice President, Attorney General William French Smith, Senator Strom Thurmond, chairman, and Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr., ranking minority member, the Senate Judiciary Committee, John D. Ashcroft, attorney general of Missouri and president of the National Association of Attorneys General, and officials of the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association. Members of the press were also present at the ceremony.