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Are there commas around the year when, with the date, it is a direct adjective?
…the May 15, 2012, letter…
…the August 9, 1939, birth date…
The year following the date is always surrounded with a pair of commas.
The reason there is confusion here is the rule that says you don’t put a comma between the adjective and the noun it modifies. That rule says you don’t put a single separating comma between the adjective and the noun it modifies.
This is not a single comma. This is a pair of commas, which you can put anywhere. If you take out the year, both commas go with it.