In the News: the USA Patriot Act

After the horrific events of September 11, 2001, Congress acted quickly to pass the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, better known as the USA Patriot Act. It was signed by President Bush on October 26, 2001.

The Act expanded the investigative authority of federal officials, including their ability to track and intercept communications, in addition to other enhanced powers to combat domestic and international terrorism. The Act has been very controversial because of its impact on civil liberties.

Effective midnight May 31, certain provisions of the act expired, including § 215 which had been used by the National Security Agency as authority to collect of millions of telephone records. Prior to this sun-setting, the House had passed H.R. 2048: the USA Freedom Act of 2015. Today, the Senate passed this bill and it was signed by President Obama. His signing statement is available on the White House Website. Track the law’s history on

To learn more about the Patriot Act, please consult the law library’s National Security Research Guide. Resources available in the library include a five volume compiled legislative history of the Act. To discover more about the controversy surrounding this law, GMUSL patrons may wish to search these databases, in additional to traditional news sources:


Access to Legal Databases:

  • Bloomberg Law: Full access continues until December 31, 2015. No action needed.
  • Lexis Advance
    • Full access through July 1, 2015. No action needed.
    • Graduates who register here will receive access to a Graduate Home Page with tailored content, resume tips, virtual research training, and current legal news from Law360® through December 31, 2015.
    • If you are working for a nonprofit or public interest organization you may apply here for one year of free access through the ASPIRE Program.
  • Westlaw:  
    • Access to job-related resources for 18 months. No action needed.
    • Graduating students may extend their password here for unlimited Westlaw access through November 30th for Academic purposes, finding a job, for updating research/note/comments, etc.

Access to Library Services:

  • Student IDs are valid through October 12, 2015—so new graduates may reserve study rooms, check out books (until Sept. 30), and use the computer labs.
  • The library is open to the public for conducting legal research, so please feel free to use our print resources and publicly available databases— including in-library access to Keycite, Shepards, Bloomberg Law, and HeinOnline. There are also Westlaw and Lexis Patron Access Terminals with limited primary sources. More information about the library’s access policy is available here.
  • Reference librarians are also happy to assist you in person, by phone 703.993.8076, or email.


During the summer, Current GMUSL Students have the following legal database access:

  • Bloomberg Law: Unlimited, unrestricted access. No registration required.
  • Lexis Advance: Unlimited, unrestricted access. No registration required.
  • Westlaw: Limited, restricted access. Registration required.
    • Students retain access to all TWEN courses and materials, and West Academic Online Study Aids.
    • Students may apply for a password extension here for the following acceptable uses:
      • Summer law school classes
      • Law journal work
      • Projects for faculty
      • Moot court
      • Unpaid, nonprofit public-interest internship/externship or pro bono work required for graduation
    • Summer passwords may not be used for research for “law firms, corporations or other entity (unrelated to law school) that is paying you to conduct said research or that is passing the costs of said research to a third party.”

Students continue to have full access to all other Law-Related Databases and databases available from the GMU Libraries Database Portal.

Reference Librarians will be available throughout the Summer to answer any research-related questions. Please feel free to call, email, or stop by the Reference Office. Full contact details are available from the library Staff Directory.



The library has just received notice from Thomson Reuters that all WESTLAW Passwords (created before October 7, 2O14) ) MUST be changed IMMEDIATELY.

If you do not change your password by January 13, 2015, then your access to WestlawNext and TWEN will be suspended.

Here’s what to do:



If you have any questions, please stop by or call the Reference Office 703.993.8076.

Farewell to a Classic

Westlaw Classic has gone off into the sunset. . . .

Effective today, Westlaw Classic is not longer available to academic subscribers. All GMU users will have access to Westlaw Next only. TWEN and West Study Aids remain available.

Need help with the transition?

Memorial Day 2014

In observance of Memorial Day, the law library will be closed Sunday, May 25 and Monday, May 26.

A brief Memorial Day History is available on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Website. Also of interest may be two famous Memorial Day speeches delivered by Oliver Wendell Holmes, one in 1884 and the other addressed to the graduating class at Harvard Law School in 1895.  PDFs of these speeches are available using The Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises Database (GMUSL users may link to this database here).

And where is Memorial Day officially designated a Federal holiday? Title 36 of the United States Code includes statutes relating to “Patriotic and National Observances.” 36 U.S.C. § 116 designates the last Monday in May as Memorial Day.