On Thursday, November 26, 1789, the first Thanksgiving holiday was celebrated pursuant to a proclamation issued by President George Washington. A 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 that year (November 23, 1939). Roosevelt was responding to pressure from retailers to expand the Christmas shopping season.This change sparked controversy and angered some football coaches, whose season was scheduled according to the holiday. There was also a a split among states, 32 issuing proclamations following the President but 16 others refusing to change the date. See H.R. Rep. No.77-1186, at 1 (1941) (available to GMU patrons on Proquest Congressional)
Two years later, 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. 27 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, References Services 9:00 am-12:00 pm
- Thurs. Nov. 28 Closed
- Fri. Nov. 29 Closed
- Sat. Nov. 30 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
- Sun. Dec. 1 10:00 am -11:00 pm, Reference Services 2:00 pm-9:00 pm
Have a safe and enjoyable holiday!
In 1992, sparked by public outcry about the concealment of documents related to President Kennedy’s assassination, Congress passed and President Bush signed the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Act of 1992, Public Law 102-526.
The Act appears as a note to 44 U.S.C. § 2107. When enacted the statute required, in part, that the National Archives and Records Administration establish The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection ”to consist of record copies of all Government records relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.”
Today, 50 years after President Kennedy’s death, the collection includes millions of pages of assassination-related records, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings and artifacts, and continues to grow.
President John F. Kennedy, July 11, 1963
Cecil Stoughton Photographer, NARA Collection
Yesterday Google announced its new enhancement to Google Scholar: Google Scholar Library. This feature allows users to store a personal collection of articles. Here are the details from the Google Scholar Blog:
Effective tomorrow, all searches for Thomas.gov will redirect to Congress.gov, the Library of Congress’ new enhanced legislative information website.
On January 5,1995, the Library of Congress launched THOMAS, named in honor of Thomas Jefferson (the principal founder of the library), at the request of congressional leaders. The website provided unprecedented free public access to legislative documents. When it first became available, THOMAS included full-text of bills from the 103rd Congress and was updated with new bills as they became available. Here’s how it looked in its early days:
Thomas’ user interface changed over time and was expanded to include the Congressional Record as well as bills since the 101st Congress, bill tracking since the 93rd Congress, and committee reports since the 104th Congress.
THOMAS approximately 10 years ago. Image courtesy of Andrew Weber, Law Library of Congress, Legislative Information Systems Manager.
Here’s how Thomas looks today:
For more information about the history of Thomas, please see:
- Jeffrey C. Griffith, Congress’ Legislative Information Systems: Thomas and the LIS, 18 Gov’t Info. Q. 43 (2001).
- Guy Lamolinara, Congress on the Internet: New Web Server Organize Online Information, Library of Congress Information Bulletin (Jan. 23, 1995), http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9502/thomas.html.
- Andrew Weber, A THOMAS Time Capsule, In Custodia Legis (Nov. 15, 2011), http://blogs.loc.gov/law/2011/11/a-thomas-time-capsule/.
Remember that CALI lessons are available to help you master course material as you prepare for finals. If you have not registered yet and need our school authorization code, stop by the Reference Office or email Melanie Knapp.
Pursuant to 5 USC § 6103, Veterans Day is November 11 each year. GMUSL has a special commitment to serving our country’s veterans. Since 2004, the law school has provided a Clinic for Legal Assistance to Servicemembers and Veterans (CLASV):
The clinic enables Mason law students to represent servicemembers and veterans in a wide variety of litigation and non-litigation matters. Since its inception, clinic students have assisted over 70 clients from all five branches of the armed services, in litigation, adjudication and negotiation regarding consumer protection, administrative and military law and entitlements (TSGLI, PEB Boards and discharge upgrade appeals), family law, bankruptcy, immigration, landlord-tenant, contract, estate and entitlement matters in federal and state forums.
Students interested in CLASV will find additional information here.
We recently received a report of a laptop that was stolen from the law library. This is the time of year when thieves are out in force looking for an easy opportunity to grab something of value.
Despite all of the precautions that we take, the library and Hazel Hall are NOT secure. Please do not leave your laptops or other valuables unattended and back-up your important files.
Also, don’t hesitate to contact the library staff at Circulation or the campus police if someone is making you uncomfortable, or you feel that something is just not right. University Police provides 24-hour police coverage.
- Emergency: Dial 911 (Arlington County Police will notify the University Police)
- University Police: 703-993-8070; Location: Law School, B-1.
- Police Escort Services: 703-993-837.
- Circulation Desk: 703-993-8120
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 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).
In response to student requests, we will again be offering expanded hours during reading days and exams. Insider tip: if you like expanded library hours please take advantage of these extra hours! We are paying attention to how many students are actually using the library late at night. So far, the numbers have been small.
For those who want to study after the library closes, there is an after-hours study hall in classrooms 120 and 121. These rooms stay open until 2:00 a.m. If you are in the building after 11:00 p.m. (when it closes to the general public), please keep your ID with you, and don’t lock yourself out of the building or prop the building doors open.
A number of survey responders were—not surprisingly—unhappy with the end of free Westlaw printing. This change was made by Westlaw, and the company has discontinued free print services at all law schools. Lexis continues to offer free printing from Lexis Advance.
One positive spin on this is that Westlaw and other major legal research databases provide robust features for saving and storing your research (i.e. folders, workspaces) that can both help you organize your work and save some trees! If you need assistance using any of these features, please stop by the Reference Office.