HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

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 legal relevance of this document has been the subject of some debate by members of  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 July 3 and 4 in observance of Independence Day. Enjoy the fireworks!

LAW DAY CELEBRATES MAGNA CARTA

In 1961, Congress officially designated May 1 as Law Day (36 U.S.C.§ 113):

§113. Law Day, U.S.A.
(a) Designation. May 1 is Law Day, U.S.A.
(b) Purpose.-Law Day, U.S.A., is a special day of celebration by the people of the United States-
(1) in appreciation of their liberties and the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States and of their rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under law in their relations with each other and with other countries; and
(2) for the cultivation of the respect for law that is so vital to the democratic way of life.

Each year, the American Bar Association selects a theme for the Law Day celebration. This year’s theme is: Magna Carta: Symbol of Freedom Under Law, in recognition of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta:

 Perhaps more than any other document in human history, Magna Carta has come to embody a simple but enduring truth: No one, no matter how powerful, is above the law.

In the eight centuries that have elapsed since Magna Carta was sealed in 1215, it has taken root as an international symbol of the rule of law and as an inspiration for many basic rights Americans hold dear today, including due process, habeas corpus, trial by jury, and the right to travel.

As we mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, join us on Law Day, May 1, 2015, to commemorate this “Great Charter of Liberties,” and rededicate ourselves to advancing the principle of rule of law here and abroad.

Learn more about this year’s Law Day:

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

70th Anniversary of D-Day and the Importance of a Single Patent

On June 6, 1944, more than 130,000 troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France in a campaign called Operation Overlord. To succeed, the operation needed boats that could be landed directly on beaches without using a dock or wharf.

Higgins Industries, a New Orleans company headed by Andrew Jackson Higgins, patented and built a specially designed boat that was used for the D-Day amphibious landings. President Eisenhower later called Higgins “the man that won the war for us.”

A copy of this patent can be found using the U.S. Patent and Trade Mark Office’s Patent and Full-Text Database.The National Archives also has a special virtual exhibit  commemorating D-Day that includes a digital copy of the original patent for the Higgins Boat Landing Craft. Here is the accompanying drawing of the design:

Higgins Boat

 

 

 

 

ost 133,000 troops landed on D-Day.   hat could  transport military equipment to the beaches without the use of wharves or docks was crucial. 

Law and All Hallows’ Eve

Halloween can be a catalyst for unique lawsuits.  A 2011 article in the New York State Bar Association Journal, titled Case Law from the Crypt: The Law of Halloween summarizes some of these strange cases.

In one case, the plaintiff alleged that a neighbor’s holiday decorations—which included an “‘Insane Asylum’ directional sign pointed towards the plaintiff’s house” and a tombstone referencing the plaintiff— were “defamatory, harassing, and caused emotional distress.” In addition to claims involving Halloween decorations, other cases have involved injury to persons or property and provocative costumes in the workplace.

In her new book, Halloween Law, Law Professor Victoria Sutton calls Justice Scalia the “father of Halloween Law.”  During oral argument in Central Virginia Community College v. Katz, 546 U.S. 356 (2006), held on October 31, 2005, a light bulb exploded loudly.  This led to the following exchange:

Justice Scalia: Light bulb went out.

Chief Justice Roberts: It’s a trick they play on new justices all the time.

Justice Scalia:  Happy Halloween.

Justice Ginsburg:  That’s the idea

Justice Roberts:  Take your time.

Justice Scalia:  We’re even more in the dark now than before.

Listen to the Oral Argument on Oyez.org here (explosion at 42:59).

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Constitution Day!

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. 

 

 

 

Law and the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

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.

 

Happy Fourth of July!

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!