Today is the 225th 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- Founder’s Constitution (University of Chicago Press) Provides links to historical documents related to the development of the Constitution.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.
One of the many legacies of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 has been the expansion of law aimed at combating terrorism. As discussed in an earlier post, this legislative response included enacting the Patriot Act on October 26, 2001.
The Law Library of Congress has posted a list of Legislation Related to the Attack of September 11, 2001. Updated through the 107th Congress (2001-2003), the list cites 21 Bills and Joint Resolutions signed into law, including H.J. Res. 71 designating September 11 as Patriot Day (36 U.S.C. § 144). President Obama’s 2012 Patriot Day Proclamation is available on the White House Website here.
In observance of Labor Day, the Law Library will be closed on Monday, September 3. 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.
Tomorrow it will be two years since Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The law was designed to provide comprehensive reform to financial regulation in response to the major crisis that hit the U.S. financial system in 2008. The law’s stated purpose is:
To promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end ‘‘too big to fail’’, to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes.
This voluminous statute has spawned thousands of pages of regulation. Its provisions include the establishment of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, chaired by the Treasury Secretary and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
A Congressional Research Service Report summarizing the policy issues and provisions of the law is available here. Not surprisingly, the law has generated vocal adherents and detractors. A Google News search for “Dodd-Frank” and/or a search limited to “Blogs”* will reveal many of these opinions.
*To find blogs on Google: Search for the desired keyword>From the results page, expand the left hand toolbar at “More”>Select “Blogs”
Independence Day marks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. But what exactly is this document? It is printed in Statutes at Large. It is included in the United States Code as one of “The Organic Laws of the United States of America.” It has been mentioned periodically in Supreme Court decisions. Not surprisingly, the relevance of this document has been the subject of some debate in the legal academy. “Declaration of Independence” as a title search in HeinOnline will yield several articles.
Visit the National Archives website to view images of the Declaration of Independence and to read a brief history of this document. The original is housed in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. You can also view a 1998 video of then members of the Supreme Court reading the complete text.
The law library will be closed on Wednesday, July 4 in observance of Independence Day. Enjoy the fireworks!
The Supreme Court has issued its decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius reviewing the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010). The Court upheld the “individual mandate” as constitutional under the Congress’ power to tax under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion for the majority, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined.
Scout, sponsored by the Sunlight Foundation, is a new service (in beta) that offers free searching and customized alerts for federal and state legislative action (including bills & speeches) and federal regulations. Scout searches several government information sources, including: Federal Register.gov, GPO (Fdsys), GovTrack, Capitol words, and Open States.
For more information about Scout, please see the OFR Blog here.
President Obama followed a tradition established by President Eisenhower by proclaiming May 1, 2012: Law Day. In 1961, Congress officially designated May 1 as Law Day, 36 U.S.C. § 113. Each year, the American Bar Association selects a theme for the Law Day celebration. This year’s theme is: No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom.
For more information about Law Day, please see the ABA’s Law Day Page.
On April 16,1862, President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, 12 Stat. 376, ending slavery in the District of Columbia.
More information about the Emancipation Act is available from the National Archives, including images of the original law and a short video presentation. See also the Law Librarians of Congress Blog.
One hundred years ago today, the RMS Titanic sank, tragically costing more than 1,500 people their lives.
In Custodia Legis blog has a very interesting post about this disaster from a legal perspective, specifically the then applicable laws related to lifeboats–with which the Titanic was in compliance. Under UK shipping laws at the time, lifeboat capacity was based on ship tonnage rather than numbers of passengers. According to a Senate Report issued after 18 days of hearings, the Titanic exceeded those requirements by having a lifeboat capacity of 1,176. The ship had more than 2,200 passengers and crew, but fewer than a quarter of that number survived.
There were lawsuits for personal injury, wrongful death, and property damage. Claims against the ship’s owner in a U.S. courts, however, were severely limited under U.S. Admiralty Law. See Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. v. Mellor, 233 U.S. 712 (1913). Ultimately, cases filed in both the United States and England were resolved by a consolidated settlement. See Robert D. Peltz, The Titanic’s Legacy: The History and Legal Developments Following the World’s Most Famous Maritime Disaster, 12 U.S.F. Mar. L.J. 45 (1999).
After Robert Ballard discovered the Titanic wreckage, Congress passed the R.M.S. Titanic Memorial Act of 1986 designating the site “an international maritime memorial to the men,women, and children who perished aboard her.”
Some of the the resources available to GMUSL readers to learn more include:
In addition, the International Maritime Organization website has information on the history of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) adopted in response to Titanic tragedy.