OYEZ, OYEZ, OYEZ: IT’S THE FIRST MONDAY IN OCTOBER

Since 1916, the Supreme Court’s Term has begun each year on the first Monday in October. 28 U.S.C. § 2.  Supreme Court terms are therefore called the “October Term” followed by the year (e.g. October Term 2013). Why the first October Monday?

Under the Judiciary Act of 1789 (1 Stat. 73) the Court sat for two sessions, one beginning the “first Monday of August,” the second the “first Monday of February.” Congress subsequently altered the Court’s term a number of times:

  • 1801   Two Terms, began the first Mondays in June and December (2 Stat.89)
  • 1802   One Term, began the first Monday in February (2 Stat.156)
  • 1826   One Term, began the second Monday in January (4 Stat.160)
  • 1844   One Term, began the second Monday in December (5 Stat.676)
  • 1873   One Term, began the second Monday of October (17 Stat.419)

In 1916, Congress passed H.R. 15158 (39 Stat. 726) which amended the judicial code to, in part, fix the start of the Court’s term to the first Monday in October. According to both the applicable House and Senate Committee Reports, the purpose of changing the term start date was “to shorten the vacation and give the court an extra week when the weather is favorable to work.” H. R. Rep. No. 794 at 1 (1916), S. Rep. No. 775 at 1 (1916).

For more information about the Court’s docket, including oral argument dates, consult the Supreme Court WebsiteScotusblog is another very useful source to keep up to date on cases before the Court.

Banned Books Week

Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”

—Article 3, Library Bill of Rights

September 21-27 is Banned Books Week—an annual event launched by the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom to “promote awareness of challenges to library materials and celebrate[s] freedom of speech.”

The Banned Books Week Website includes a variety of information, including top ten lists of challenged books from the past decade. The 2011 list includes the legal classic To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

Federal Courts have struck down a variety of efforts to ban access to books. A list of some of these cases is available on the ALA website here.

Spy Wit’ Ye Eye These Resources Fer Researchin’ Piracy Law

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day! While talk o’ pirates makes us think o’ Captain Hook and Long John Silver, piracy on t’ high seas be serious matter o’ international maritime law.

Th’ primary legal framework governin’ prevention ‘o piracy be th’ 1982 United Nations Convention on th’ Law ‘o th’ Sea (UNCLOS). Article 101 ‘o UNCLOS states:

Piracy consists of any of the following acts:

(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;

(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;

(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;

(c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).

Useful online resources on th’ international law ‘o piracy include:

 

 

HAPPY CONSTITUTION DAY!

Today is the 227th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Pursuant to 36 U.S.C. §106, September 17 is designated as “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day”, and under 36 U.S.C. §108, the President is requested to “designate the week beginning September 17 and ending September 23 as ‘Constitution Week.’”

Useful resources about the U.S. Constitution include:

  • American Memory (Library of Congress) Find documents from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention (1774-1789), includes images of original documents and related materials. 
  • Founder’s Constitution (University of Chicago Press) Provides links to historical documents related to the development of the Constitution. 
  • LII: CRS Annotated Constitution Prepared by the Congressional Research Service, provides links to Supreme Court opinions, the U.S. Code, and the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • National Archives Images of original documents and historical information

HOW MANY TITLES ARE IN THE U.S. CODE . . . AND WHO DECIDES?

If your answer is 51, then you will only be correct until September 1. Starting next month the U.S. Code will extend to include Title 52. Title 52, “Voting and Election” will cover federal election statutes under three subtitles:

  1. Voting Rights
  2. Voting Assistance and Election Administration
  3. Federal Campaign Finance

Was there a congressional bill needed to add this title?  Nope. The U.S. Code is administered by the Office of Law Revision Counsel pursuant to 2 U.S.C. § 285. The OLRC has authority over the preparation of the United States Code, including the ability to make revisions. In the case of voting and election laws, the OLRC staff determined that the volume of laws enacted on these topics warranted a separate title.

More information about this Code reclassification is available on the Office of Revision Counsel Website.

LABOR DAY 2014

The Law Library will be closed on Labor Day, Monday, September 1. Weekend hours remain unchanged.

Want more information about Labor Day?

The U.S. Department of Labor website is a good place to start. The DOL also provides statutory, regulatory, and general information about issues that come under its jurisdiction, including:  wage & hours, occupational health & safety, worker’s compensation, whistleblowers, and family leave. Find a “Summary of the Major Laws of the Department of Labor” here.

Enjoy the holiday!

WHAT IS CALI ???

As we distribute CALI access codes to first years, a logical question has come up: What is CALI?

CALI stands for the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction.  It is a nonprofit consortium, established in 1982, that now includes most U.S. law schools and many other entities that are interested in legal education.

For law students, CALI is primarily a source for hundreds of concise lessons written by faculty and librarians. These online tutorials serve to introduce and/or review substantive legal topics, legal writing, legal research, and other useful subjects.

There are several introductory CALI Lessons created especially for 1Ls, including:

WELCOME STUDENTS!

The Library and Technology Staff welcomes all new and returning students to the George Mason University School of Law.  We look forward to seeing you in the library

Hours: when classes are in session, the library is open:

  • Sunday 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
  • Monday -Thursday 8:00 am – 11:00 pm
  • Friday 8:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • Saturday 10:00 am – 10:00 pm

Reference: when classes are in session, the Reference Office (on the main floor of the library) is open:

  • Monday – Thursday 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
  • Friday 9:00 am – 5:00pm
  • Sunday 2:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Feel free to contact Reference Librarians in person (no appointment needed), by phone, or send an email. Contact information is on the Staff Directory Page.

The Technology Center: is located on the 3rd floor of the Law Library in Room 362, and is generally open on weekdays from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm. Contact information is available on the Technology Support Page.