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 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 July 4th in observance of Independence Day. Enjoy the fireworks!
In observance of Memorial Day, the Law Library will close at 6 pm on Sunday, May 29 and remain closed on Monday, May 30.
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 (GMULS users link to this database here). Select Advanced Search>Enter Title “Speeches,” Author “Oliver Wendell Holmes.”
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.
The historicial significance of Cinco de Mayo has been recognized in multiple resolutions by Congress. Here is one example, available online using Thomas. To learn more about the history of this holiday, please see today’s post from the Law Library of Congress In Custodia Legis Blog.
President Obama followed a tradition established by President Eisenhower by proclaiming May 1, 2011: Law Day. In 1961, Congress officially designated May 1 as Law Day. Each year, the American Bar Association selects a theme for the Law Day celebration. This year’s theme was The Legacy of John Adams: from Boston to Guantanamo.
For more information about Law Day, please see the Law Library of Congress Law Day page.
Since 2000, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has designated April 26 as “World Intellectual Property Day.” The WIPO is an agency of the United Nations focused on “developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system.” It administers a number of international treaties focused on copyright and related rights. World Intellectual Property Day was established to increase public awareness and understanding of the significant role of IP in fostering “music, arts and entertainments” and “all the products and technological innovations that help to shape our world.”
Resources on the WIPO website include an overview (including links to PDFs) of United States IP-related statutes and regulations, and WIPO-administered treaty membership. Please consult the law library’s Intellectual Property Research Guide to locate additional useful resources related to copyright, trademark, and patent law.