Celebrating African American History Month

As each president has since 1996, President Obama proclaimed February as National African American History Month.  This year’s theme is “Black Women in American Culture and History.”  In honor of this celebration, below are the names of a few of the African American women who have been pioneers in the legal profession:

Viloette M. Anderson First African American woman lawyer to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court (1926)
Jane M. Bolin FirstAfrican American graduate of Yale Law School (1931) and the first to become a judge (1939)
Lani Guinier First tenured African American woman professor at Harvard Law School (1998)
Amalya Kearse First African American woman appointed to a United States Court of Appeals (1979)
Constance B. Motley First African American woman appointed to the Federal Judiciary (1966)
Charlotte E. Ray First African American woman to become an attorney (1872)

To learn more about National African American History Month, please visit the Library of Congress website here.

Happy Monday Holiday

George Washington’s Birthday?  President’s Day? In Virginia, the third Monday in February is officially designated as “George Washington Day.”  VA. CODE ANN § 2.2-3300 (2011).

But no rest for weary law students.  Classes are in session, and the law library will operate with regular hours.

Love and the Constitution

Forty-five years ago, the Supreme Court struck down state prohibition of interracial marriage. At the time, 16 states had laws outlawing marriage between a man and a woman of different races (many more had prohibited interracial marriage at some period before repealing these statues).

In Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S.1, 12 (1967), the Court unanimously held Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute unconstitutional:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival. . . . To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.

As reported in the ABA Journal, a new documentary about the Loving case, The Loving Story, will premier on HBO today.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Even Punxsutawney Phil Needs a Lawyer

Punxsutawney Phil is not merely a celebrity groundhog, he’s a trademark that needs protection. A trademark search on TESS—the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System—reveals that “Punxsutawney Phil” is a trademark owned by the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Inc.

Jeff Lundy, a member of the club’s “Inner Circle” since 1990, is also the attorney responsible for sending out cease and desist letters to those who attempt to misappropriate Phil’s trademark. While Lundy’s practice involves more than protecting this woodchuck’s mark, according to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Phil is definitely his “No. 1 client.” In an interview, Lundy said: “Some lawyers have the opportunity to argue before the United States Supreme Court . . . .  But only one represents Punxsutawney Phil.”

Happy Groundhog Day!

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

On Monday, January 16, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the Law Library will have limited hours:  noon-10:00 PM.  The Reference Office will be closed.

In 1983, fifteen years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death, President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law. The holiday was first observed in January, 1986.  It took another 17 years for every state to recognize the holiday.  In 1994, the holiday was designated a day of service under the direction of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

For resources about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., visit the King Center Website.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Thursday, November 26, 1789, the first Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated pursuant to a proclamation issued by President George Washington. An 1863 proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln established the last Thursday of November as the regular date for this celebration.

That tradition continued until 1939, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed the holiday would be celebrated on the second to last Thursday of November.  President Roosevelt was concerned that celebrating the holiday on the last Thursday of the month, which in 1939 was the last day of the month, would shorten the Christmas shopping season thus interferring with the country’s economic recovery.  Not surprisingly, this change prompted much controversy, including a split among states, a majority following the President but others refusing to change the date. (Listen to an NPR story about this change here).

On December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed a joint congressional resolution, known as the Thanksgiving Day Act (55 Stat. 862) establishing Thanksgiving as a Federal holiday on the fourth Thursday of November.

In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the law library will have reduced hours:

  • Wed. Nov. 23 9:00am-5:00pm, References Services available 9:00am-2:00pm
  • Thurs. Nov. 24 Closed
  • Fri. Nov. 25 Closed
  • Sat. Nov. 26 Noon-6:00pm
  • Sun. Nov. 27 11:00am-11:00pm, Reference Services Available 2:00pm-9:00pm

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday!

Veterans Day

Veterans Day, a holiday for Federal employees, will be observed on Friday, November 11.  All GMU Law Library services will operate on a normal Friday schedule: the library will be open 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM, Reference Services will be available 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website provides links to veterans-related legislation (106th-111th Congress) available on Thomas, the Library of Congress site for legislative information.  Additional information regarding congressional action related to veterans issues may be found on the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees’ web pages.

Other resources related to the legal rights of veterans include:

Board of Veterans Appeals:  Part of the Veterans Administration, this web page includes links to forms and BVA decisions.

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims:  This Court reviews certain BVA decisions.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit:  This Court’s jurisdiction includes review of UCAVC decisions.

Labor Day

In observance of Labor Day, the Law Library will be closed on Monday, September 5.

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, whistleblowing, and family leave.

Find a “Summary of the Major Laws of the Department of Labor” here.