A.G. Schneiderman Delivers Law Day Keynote Address On The Theme Of “Realizing The Dream: Equality For All”

Marking 50 Years Since Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” Speech, A.G. Highlights Dr. King’s Commitment To Overcoming Economic Inequality

Schneiderman: Honor Dr. King By Carrying On His Work For Equal Justice Under The Law, And To Abolish The “Twin Evils Of Discrimination And Economic Deprivation”

 ALBANY – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today delivered a keynote address at the 2013 Law Day Celebration at the Court of Appeals in Albany, along with Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and New York State Bar Association President Seymour James. The Law Day Celebration is hosted annually by the Attorney General and the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s celebrated “I Have A Dream” speech, the theme of Law Day this year is “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All.” In his remarks, Attorney General Schneiderman recalled Dr. King’s legacy of challenging economic inequality, as well as racial inequality. He highlighted efforts by the Attorney General’s office to reduce economic inequality by enforcing labor laws, aiding distressed homeowners, and increasing access to the political process for working people. He praised Chief Judge Lippman’s efforts to increase access to legal services for low income people, and urged audience members to honor Dr. King’s life by carrying on his work against both racial discrimination and economic inequality. The following quotes are from Attorney General Schneiderman’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

On Chief Judge Lippman

“All of us here are indebted to you for your tremendous leadership, particularly in the cause of closing the Justice Gap. Justice Lippman [is]… a national leader in the movement to ensure equal justice for all by expanding legal services.”

On Dr. King’s Commitment to Overcoming Economic Inequality

“The occasion on which he delivered the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech is widely remembered simply as the ‘March on Washington.’ But the official name was the ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,’ and it was aimed at overcoming, quote, the ‘twin evils of discrimination and economic deprivation.’”

On the Growth in Economic Inequality

“One year before King delivered that famous speech at the March on Washington, a family in the top one percent of U.S. households had approximately 125 times the wealth of the median household. And Dr. King was appalled by that.… In 2010, a household in the top one percent averaged 288 times the wealth of the median household.”

On Labor Law Enforcement

“Enforcing labor laws is really an essential part of our mission to advance equal justice under law. People who work hard deserve to be paid every dollar they earn to provide for themselves and their families.… We’re going after companies that refuse to pay prevailing wages and minimum wages, not only harming their workers, but also making it harder for honest employers to compete.”

On Protecting Homeowners From Foreclosure

“No one should lose their home just because they can’t afford a lawyer. That’s not equal justice…. I’m pleased to report to you that we have committed an additional $60 million dollars over three years to create a homeowner protection program. This program funds 34 legal services organizations and 59 housing counseling agencies in every corner of the state to help homeowners negotiate mortgage modifications, and fight foreclosure proceedings.”

On Access to the Ballot Box

“My office is committed to ensuring that the voices of all New Yorkers are heard in the political process…. It is a sad reality that the right to vote remains under attack, particularly for young people and historically disenfranchised communities.”

On Public Financing of Campaigns

“To ensure meaningful political participation for all, we must enact a strong public financing system in New York State…. Without public financing, only candidates who command the support of 5- and 6-figure donors have a realistic chance to compete. This not only invites corruption; in creates a dynamic where economic inequality and political inequality and mutually reinforcing.”

On Honoring Dr. King’s Legacy

“As we remember Dr. Martin Luther King this year, we honor his life not just by quoting his speeches, but by carrying on his work: for equal justice under the law, and to abolish the ‘twin evils of discrimination and economic deprivation.’”

Law Day was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958. He proclaimed: "I … hereby designate Thursday, May 1, 1958, as Law Day -- USA. I urge the people of the United States to observe the designated day with appropriate ceremonies and activities; and I especially urge the legal profession, the press and the radio, television and motion picture industries to promote and to participate in the observance of that day." Each year, bar associations, the courts and other law-related organizations and educational institutions sponsor events to recognize the important role the law and our justice system play in our democratic society.

The full text of the Attorney General’s Law Day remarks can be read here: www.ag.ny.gov/pdfs/AG%20Law%20Day%20Remarks%20as%20Prepared%20for%20Delivery%205%201%202013.pdf.

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