Yale Law Library - Reference Blog
The Two Faces of American Freedom
There is a new video available at the law library, a discussion with Aziz Rana '06 on his new book, " The Two Faces of American Freedom," with commentary by Professor Bruce Ackerman. The video is available here, and the book is available at the Law Library.
Two Faces of American Freedom" boldly reinterprets the American
political tradition from the colonial period to modern times, placing
issues of race relations, immigration, and presidentialism in the
context of shifting notions of empire and citizenship. Today, while the
U.S. enjoys tremendous military and economic power, citizens are
increasingly insulated from everyday decision-making. This was not
always the case. Aziz Rana argues that America began as a settler society
grounded in an ideal of freedom as the exercise of continuous
self-rule-one that joined direct political participation with economic
independence. However, this vision of freedom was politically bound to
the subordination of marginalized groups, especially slaves, Native
Americans, and women. These practices of liberty and exclusion were not
separate currents, but rather two sides of the same coin.However, at
crucial moments, social movements sought to imagine freedom without
either subordination or empire. By the mid-twentieth century, these
efforts failed, resulting in the rise of hierarchical state and
corporate institutions. This new framework presented national and
economic security as societyrsquo;s guiding commitments and nurtured a
continual extension of Americarsquo;s global reach. Rana envisions a
democratic society that revives settler ideals, but combines them with
meaningful inclusion for those currently at the margins of American
US Code adds a new Title!!!
Coming soon: Title 51 Space Law! More here.
Yale Finding Aids now in Connecticut Archives Online
Finding aids from Yale's special collections repositories are now discoverable through Connecticut Archives Online (CAO, ). CAO is a union index of finding aids from repositories across Connecticut, developed and hosted by Western Connecticut State University. Users can cross search finding aids from Western Connecticut, UConn, Yale and other repositories. After discovering a finding aid in CAO, the user will be redirected back to the Yale Finding Aid Database to view the actual finding aid.
Obama Signs Executive Order on Controlled Unclassified Information
On November 4th, President Obama signed an executive order requiring agencies to use one term only -- “Controlled Unclassified
Information,” (CUI) -- to mark documents that they believe should be
protected, but not designated as “classified.” The order establishes a program for managing this information that
emphasizes the openness and uniformity of Government-wide practice. Prior to the order, several federal agencies used their own system of approximately 120 different markings in order to categorize and protect information. These agency-specific policies led to unclear and sometimes unnecessarily restrictive dissemination policies, and created impediments to authorized information sharing.
The order can be viewed here.
Lexis Webcast: Adding Legal Experience to Your Resume
On Tuesday November 9th LexisNexis will host a webcast entitled Alternative and Pro Bono Career Exploration. In this webcast you will:
- Learn about Pro Bono opportunities from Esther F. Lardent, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pro Bono Institute.
Learn more about the Pro Bono Institute here.
- Hear from Edward Adams, the Editor and Publisher of the ABA Journal about various legal career paths.
Register now here
- the first 1,000 students to register and attend the November 9th
webcast will receive a free law student membership to the ABA valued at
$25. You will also receive 200 LexisNexis Reward points for attending.
There is no cost for this short webcast, you only need a computer
and an internet connection to attend.
Bloomberg Database Training
On Tuesday, October 5th, a representative from Bloomberg will provide a basic overview of how to use the system, followed by advanced training on searching court dockets. Basic training will be from 2:30pm-3:00pm and repeat 3:00pm-3:30pm. Docket training will take place from 2:00-2:30 and repeat 3:30pm-4:00pm. To register for basic training, see here. To register for dockets training, see here. Bloomberg law is a real-time legal research system that integrates innovative search technology, comprehensive legal content, company and client information and proprietary news all in one place.
Judiciary Approves Pilot Project for Cameras in District Courts
The Judicial Conference of the United States recently approved a three-year pilot project to evaluate the effect of cameras in federal district courtrooms, video recordings of proceedings and the public release of digital video recordings of some civil proceedings. For more information, see here.
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 53 prohibits electronic media coverage of criminal proceedings in federal courts. However, the Judicial Conference allows each appellate court discretion to permit broadcasting of oral arguments. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals allow such coverage.
WestlawNext comes to Yale Law
Yale law students and faculty currently have a new option when they log into their Westlaw accounts: WestlawNext. The database provides most of the content you are familiar with, but the interface has changed dramatically in an effort to make searching easier. We will be offering many training sessions throughout the course of the semester. There are some glitches as the database has not yet been widely released, so you retain access to Westlaw's traditional platform. Of important note: you CANNOT currently print to the Westlaw printer from WestlawNext. To use the Westlaw printer, you must use the traditional platform.
President Obama Announces Nomination for new Public Printer
Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate William J. Boarman as Public Printer of the United States. The announcement, as well as a description of Mr. Boarman's background, is available here. The Public Printer is the official head of the Government Printing Office (GPO), which is responsible for printing federal government documents including the Supreme Court's U.S. Reports, Congressional materials, the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register and other documents from the Executive Office of the President.
LexisNexis Communities open
The NEW version of the open web LexisNexis Communities went live yesterday. Containing news, blogs, podcasts and videocasts and analysis of top cases, LexisNexis
Communities allow students and professors to stay on top of emerging issues by connecting with practitioners and other legal professionals in certain practice areas. Practice areas include:
· Copyright and Trademark
· Corporations and Securities
· Estates and Elder Law
· Environmental Law and Climate Change
· Insurance Law
· International and Foreign Law
· Patent Law
· Real Estate Law
· Tax Law
· UCC and Commercial Law
· Workers’ Compensation
So, West is coming out with a new research system. It will be rolled out next week (February 1). When will we see it? Not sure yet. But, a few law librarians have seen it and are letting us know about it. First, our own Jason Eiseman (along with former YLS librarian Tom Boone. Greg Lambert, and Jason Wilson) discuss WestlawNext. Next, Betsy McKenzie gives a thoughtful analysis of WestlawNext and what it means for researching and what to do with those old skills.
We'll have more news about WestlawNext (and the new Lexis and Bloomberg) as we learn about them.
Obama Administration Launches Comprehensive Open Government Plan
Today, U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra launched the Administration’s comprehensive Open Government Plan, furthering the President’s commitment to increasing transparency and accountability in Washington and ensuring greater access to information. You can view the directive, which instructs the agencies to take specific actions to open their operations to the public here.
Below please find the text of an email that was sent to YLS students regarding current awareness tools.
Today, I thought that I would let you know about a few tools that
can help you keep current. These tools can help you keep current with
the law in particular fields or scholarship in particular fields, by
particular authors, or that appear in particular journals.
are several methods that you can use to stay current with new events in
particular areas of law. I expect that you are already familiar with
Lexis' and Westlaw's saved searches (if not, contact a reference
librarian or the Lexis or Westlaw representative for instruction).
Those tools allow you to receive new results from searches that you
have constructed. There are, however, better tools.
publishers have specialized in a form of legal publishing called
"looseleafs". Looseleafs pull together all primary source material on
a legal topic as well as analysis and current awareness information
(the name hearkens back to their print past). Today, these publishes
still produce these research tools and they are still very useful and
they produce excellent current awareness tools.
Clearinghouse is one of these publishers. CCH has pulled many of their
looseleafs together into one online platform that you can access from
the Law Library Databases page (under the name CCH Online Networks).
After a short registration process you will have access to information
on a wide variety of legal topics. You can also sign up to receive
"tracker" newsletters from CCH (either in your email of via your rss
reader) on over 70 legal topics. Just click on the "tracker News" link
in the upper left.
Another looseleaf publisher, the Bureau of
National Affairs also produces material on a large number of legal
topics and produces newsletters on over 100 legal topics. You can see
a list of the newsletters here:
newsletters will come to you by email. If you are interested in
receiving any BNA newsletters, please send an email with your name,
your Yale email address, and the name(s) of the newsletters that you
would like to receive to john dot nann at yale dot edu. Please note
that it will take several days for your BNA subscription to become
There are several tools that you can use to track legal
scholarship. I expect that you know about the "New Acquisition" lists
that the law library publishes,
http://www.law.yale.edu/library/acquisitions.asp, but did you know that
you can find out, on a weekly basis, what new books we've recieved on
any topic that you choose? To do that, set up a preferred search and
have new results sent to you. To set up a preferred search, conduct a
search in MORRIS (a subject search is a good one) and, on the results
screen, click on the "Save as preferred search" button. Log in and
follow the prompts and from then on, you'll receive notice of any new
books that we receive that match your search. By the way, for broader
coverage, you can also do the same at worldcat.org.
There are a
couple of good tools for keeping up with legal periodical articles.
Washington and Lee Law Library's Law Journal Content tool allows you to
set up an rss feed for new journal tables of contents
(http://lawlib.wlu.edu/CLJC/index.aspx) (there is actually a lot more
that you can do with the content, you can see their information page
for more: http://lawlib.wlu.edu/CLJC/explanation.aspx).
Current Index to Legal Periodicals is another contents tool. CILP is
available to you by a variety of means. First, it exists as a database
on Westlaw (database identifier is CILP) and the usual Westlaw saved
searches work on it. Second, you can sign up to get the tables of
contents of selected journals and/or information about articles
classified under selected subjects. To set up a CILP search, go to
http://lib.law.washington.edu/cilp/scilp.html and set up a profile.
First, however, you will need YLS's code. You can get that in the
Library databases link on the Inside site
(https://inside.law.yale.edu/Research/305/default.aspx - this should
work if you sign in). And third, you can go to CILP and read it in
html, Word or PDF at: http://cilp.nellco.org/cilp/index.cfm.
Also, some journal publishers provide table of content or other current awareness tools for their stable of titles (see Sage Journals Online
for example) and other, non-law, indexes allow you to save searches.
If you are interested in any of these, stop by and see a reference
librarian or contact one of us and set up a meeting
forget that we can help with your other research issues. You can stop
by or, for more complex probnlems, contact us and set up a meeting.
John B. Nann
Associate Librarian for Reference and Instructional Services,
Bibliographer for EU and UK Law, and Lecturer in Legal Research
Yale Law School
127 Wall Street
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
john dot nann at yale dot edu
Yale ISP Celebrates Open Access Week
Just received this press release from the YLS Information Society Project:
Yale ISP Celebrates Open Access Week with
The Information Society Project at Yale Law
School (Yale ISP) today launched three new reports on the state of
access to knowledge in comparative national perspective. The new works
feature research on challenges of intellectual property and innovation in three
developing countries. The launch is timed to coincide with the first-ever
international celebration of Open Access Week,
October 19-23, 2009.
Open Access Week seeks to raise awareness of the importance of open access
to research. In today's world, proper use of digital publication platforms and
open copyright licenses can greatly facilitate the spread and impact of
academic research. Consistent with these values, the research launched this
week carries Creative
Commons licenses and is available for free download
at the Yale ISP website.
In developing the reports, the Yale ISP partnered with academic institutions
abroad at the University of Buenos Aires, the University of Addis Abeba, and
the University of Cape Town. Research teams within these and other institutions
have joined with the Yale ISP to form the A2K Global Academy,
a network of academic centers dedicated to research, education, and policy
analysis promoting access to knowledge.
The project has already resulted in two books, both forthcoming from the
open access publishing imprint Bloomsbury Academic
this winter: Access to Knowledge in Brazil: New Research on Intellectual
Property, Innovation and Development, and Access to Knowledge in Egypt:
New Research on Intellectual Property, Innovation and Development.
Research examining related topics in India and China was launched in
August 2009. The newest installment, featuring insights into the state of
access to knowledge in Argentina, Ethiopia, and South Africa, completes the series of seven reports.
Topics addressed by the research include: open source software, alternative
business models for cultural production, exceptions and limitations to copyright,
ICT for development, access to medicines, open educational resources,
technological standards, and biotechnology.
The three-year research project was supported with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,
as part of an initiative supporting international academic collaboration on
access to knowledge challenges and opportunities.
“Innovation is the basis for economic growth and finding solutions to
pressing problems,” said Lea Shaver,
director of the ISP’s research program in access to knowledge. “But law and
policy do not always support innovation optimally, nor ensure that new
knowledge spreads as widely as it could. This research offers important
guidance to policymakers, particularly in the context of developing countries.”
Continuing its academic work in this area, the Yale ISP will host a major
conference on access to knowledge and human rights on February 12-13, 2010 at
Yale Law School.
The Yale Information Society Project is an intellectual center at Yale Law
School that studies the implications of new information technologies for law
and society, guided by values of democracy, human rights, and innovation. For
more information, visit isp.law.yale.edu.
For a research guide on India's Resources, check out our country-by-country grid or the Foreign Law Guide.
For print primary resources please go to
the Lower East Side of the Law Library, call number location KNS. Here we will
have the Constitution of India (KNS1744.5195), selections of Constitutional Debates (KNS1760 .I33 2001) and the following federal case reporters: Supreme Court Reports (KNS18.5.A2 I53), the All India
Reporter (KNS24.A2 A45), and Supreme Court Cases (KNS18.5 .A3). Please note that state cases will also be in the All India
Reporter (KNS24.A2 A45). In addition to federal and state reporters, the Lower East side houses certain specialized reporters like Current Consumer Cases (abbreviated CCC) and the decisions of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
(abbreviated NC). However, the collection of specialized reporters is
not complete in coverage. Titles such as Consumer Protection Reporter
(abbreviated CPR) and Consumer Protection Judgments (abbreviated CPJ)
can be ordered by library patrons through Interlibrary Loan. Other primary print sources, including archived editions of India's constitution, India's Code, and
Regulations are available by request from the Library Shelving
Facility (LSF) via MORRIS.
For electronic primary resources, the Government of India's web site <http://indiacode.nic.in/>
contains primary law, although this is not an official version. Yale
Law Students also have access to India's statutory and case law through
the subscription database Manupatra
(password on YLS Inside). In addition, LexisNexis Lawschool
(individual password) contains the reported and unreported decisions of
the Supreme Court of India, from 1999 to present, as well as select
international arbitration agreements. More specialized information can
be found through agency websites, for instance National Consumer
Disputes Redressal Commission decisions are available here and the Legal Information
Institute has select government publications online, as well listed here.
For secondary sources, run title searches in MORRIS and ORBIS
first. These catalogs will indicate if we subscribe to a journal in
either print or electronic format. If we do not own a copy of the
journal or book that you are looking for, search WorldCat and request the item via Interlibrary Loan using the "Yale Links" button.
For newspapers are
kept at Sterling Memorial Library's Newspaper Room for 6 months after
receipt. Some are then archived in microfiche format. Always check
Orbis for currency and title, as well as to find online versions.
Certain papers are also available online through the newspaper's
Is researching online better for the environment?
Tough question to answer, but Reed-Elsivier took a crack at it. They looked closely at the carbon costs related to one journal (the aptly enetitled Fuel)
There are two sides to the cost: production and end use. The biggest carbon impact in journal production was employee commuting and business travel. Production of the journal used about 40 tons of CO2. Delivery of the print journal has about twice the carbon impact when compared to online delivery. But, and it's a big but, the largest variable is end user behavior. Online delivery starts out with a 2 to 1 advantage over print (say 10 tons of CO2 versus 5 tons). However, if users print out the articles, the online benefit quicky disappears. The estimate of the carbon impact of "high end use" of the online version using the numbers above raises the 5 tons to 80 tons! Although, the study seems not to include any corresponding increase related to photocopying articles from print journals.
So, production 40 tons, printing and distribution 10 tons, online delivery 5 tons. Printing out the online journal up to 75 tons!
In any event, what seems clear is that the biggest variable is end user behavior and that a marked benefit for online delivery can quickly disappear. Another reason for better e-readers!
New judicial nominations database
We are happy to announce that we have released a new site for researching and tracking federal judicial nominations.
The site is available at http://judges.law.yale.edu/ .And it includes data for every federal judicial nomination from the 103rd congress to the current day.
The site offers:
- The ability to quickly and easily track down nominees based on a
number of faceted criteria including congress, nominating president,
and nomination result.
- The ability to track nominees and nominations via RSS feeds.
- Up to date contact information for sitting judges nominated and
confirmed since the 103rd congress, and nominees from the 111th
Possible future enhancements include:
- Adding additional biographical data such as education (currently only Yale grads are tracked), gender, etc.
- Adding the ability to narrow down nominations by date and sort congress information by date.
- Better styled RSS feeds, RSS feeds for search results.
- Enhanced search capabilities.
Why isn't Sonia Sotomayor listed as having been nominated to the Supreme Court?
As of the writing of this blog post, President Obama has announced his intent
to nominate Sonia Sotomayor as Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme
Court. When her nomination is made official and received in the senate,
we will add this information to the nominations database. But you can
track her nomination by using the RSS feed from her existing profile page, or using the RSS feeds for Recent Nominations on the home page.
Any additional questions, comments, suggestions (including corrections), should be sent to lawlib.webmaster at yale.edu
Effect of the Economic Situation on American Universities
from the New York Review of Books describes the problems facing students and universities in the current financial situation as well as the impact on access to education and further stratification of education. Worth a read!
Turmoil in UK over Gurkha Immigration
Can Gurkhas who served in the British army settle in the UK? Rule denying automatic rights for those who served while the regiment was based in Hong Kong (until 1997) was overturned by the high court. Efforts to compromise look to be a mess. See this article
European Parlaiment votes to extend music copyright
The European Parliament has voted to extend the copyright from 50 to 70 years on recordings. The EU Internal Market Commissioner had proposed 95 years! If passed, will this become known as the "Beatles Act"? Their catalog was to start becoming copyright-free in 2012!More
EU Green Paper on Foreign Judgments
On 21 April 2009, the [European] Commission adopted a report and a green paper on the functioning of the existing rules on jurisdiction of the courts and the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. It concludes that time has come to achieve a free circulation of judgments in civil and commercial matters in the European Union on the basis of mutual recognition of judgments among Member States.
. . .
In this context, the report limits itself to presenting the outcome of the evaluation of the operation of the Regulation. Instead, the green paper outlines possible avenues for moving forward on the points raised in the report. In summary, the report and green paper address the following issues:
- The removal of the remaining obstacles to a free circulation of judgments, i.e. the removal of "exequatur"
- The protection of European citizens and companies in case of disputes with parties domiciled in third States, in particular by ensuring equal access to the courts of the Member States and equal protection against judgments given by the courts of third States against European defendants;
- Finally, certain imperfections in the application of certain rules of the Regulation, such as avoiding parallel proceedings in different Member States and ensuring the sound application of contractual agreements as to which courts will deal with the case in the Union.
The report and the green paper aim at launching a broad public consultation of civil society and Member States on the possible ways to deal with the issues referred to above. The deadline for consultation is 30 June 2009. The Commission's work programme foresees that a proposal for revision of the Regulation may be adopted by the end of 2009.More
UK copyright law is considered to be least user friendly
A recent report by Consumers International has concluded that the UK is the worst among 16 leading nations at protecting the rights of the users.
"UK copyright law is the oldest but also the most out of date. It’s time our copyright law caught up with the real world," said Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus. "The current system puts unrealistic limits on our listening and viewing habits and is rapidly losing credibility among consumers. A broad ‘fair use’ exception would bring us in line with consumer expectations, technology and the rest of the world."
In addition, the UK government does not seem to see reform of copyright law as a priority.
Library 2.0 Symposium
This past Saturday, Yale Law School's Information Society Project hosted a fantastic symposium on "Library 2.0". Materials from the conference, including video of the sessions and the concurrent twitter conversations is available at: http://yaleispblog.net/ . Take a look, the issues are increadibly important: its no exageration to say that the future of society will, to a large extent, be driven by the resolution of these issues. Also, it was great fun.
OECD lashes out at university 'conservatism'
"Traditional university faculties are too conservative and are standing in the way of progress, as Europe's education system struggles to become more innovative, according to the head of the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation."
YouTube - Librarians' Parade
Video from 1930 showing librarians moving with book from the old library to the Sterling Memorial Library. This comes from Yale's YouTube Channel.
We are conducting a trial of an additional portion of the Justis database. In this case, their version of CELEX, the documents of the European Union. To give it a try, simply go to Justis (you can click on the link above) and, once you are in the database, click on the EU and then search. Please let us know what you think. The trial continues until early April.
Posted by jnann.
Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship
New developments in legal publishing result in librarians encouragiong electronic publication of law journals.
About | Statement | Signatories
On 7 November 2008, the directors of the law libraries at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, New York University, Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, the University of Texas, and Yale University met in Durham, North Carolina at the Duke Law School. That meeting resulted in the "Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship," which calls for all law schools to stop publishing their journals in print format and to rely instead on electronic publication coupled with a commitment to keep the electronic versions available in stable, open, digital formats.
Read more about this at the link above.
Posted by jnann.
American Foreign Relations since 1600
32 chronologically organized chapters that combine bibliographies, biographies, and analysis written by scholars in the field, and conclude with examinations of every part of the world or nation addressed by the United States during that period; includes 18,000+ primary and secondary sources that cover the breadth of American history from the 17th century to the present.
As long as you are connected to the Yale network just click for access. If you need information about connecting to the Yale network from off-campus, click here.
Library 2.0 Symposium to Explore the Future of Digital Collections
The Yale Information Society Project will host the Library 2.0 Symposium on Saturday, April 4, 2009, at Yale Law School. The confluence of book digitization projects, user-generated content, and social networking applications is forcing us to rethink the role of libraries.
This symposium will bring
together leading thinkers from libraries,
academia, and legal practice to lay out a vision for the future of the
library and digital collections; the ethical implications of Library
including data retention and patron privacy; intellectual property
rights in user-generated and traditional digital library content; and
the future of book digitization projects. Featured speakers will
Wolpert, head of MIT libraries and the MIT press; John Palfrey,
Professor of Law and Dean for Library and Information Resources at
Harvard Law School; Josh Greenberg of the New York Public Library; Jeff
Cunard of Debevoise and Plimpton; and a host of other luminaries.
The Library 2.0 Symposium will take place in Room 127 of Yale Law
School located at 127 Wall
Street, New Haven, Connecticut. This event is free and open to the
is expected to fill up quickly. Please register at your earliest
convenience at http://www.regonline.com/Checkin.asp?EventId=705106.
information about the symposium is available on the Yale ISP web site
The Library 2.0 Symposium is made possible by the generosity of the
Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fund at Yale Law School.
One-on-one and small group training
Are you working on a research project, gathering legal materials for a SAW, or trying to track down a series of articles for a law journal? Reference librarians are here to help! Librarians are available to provide in-depth one-on-one
training and informal small group classes on a wide variety of research
topics! Interested students or faculty may fill out this form and one of the reference librarians will design a class specifically
tailored to meet your needs.
Economic Report of the President, 2009
The Economic Report of the President is available on GPO Access here. Documents are available in ASCII text and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), with many of the tables also available for separate viewing and downloading as spreadsheets in xls format. The Library also keeps archived copies of each Economic Report here .
The Economic Report of the President is issued by the Executive Office of the President and the Council of Economic Advisers and transmitted to Congress no later than ten days after the submission of the Budget of the United States Government. For more budget information, including future economic outlooks, visit the Congressional Budget Office's website.
New way to search Congressional information online for free!
GPO is pleased to announce that FDsys is now available as a public beta. The system may be accessed through <http://fdsys.gpo.gov>. And contains:
* Congressional Bills
* Congressional Documents
* Congressional Hearings
* Congressional Record
* Congressional Reports
* Federal Register
* Public and Private Laws
* Compilation of Presidential Documents
You might be used to searching for these documents through GPO Access. GPO Access is in the process of being migrated to GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys), a process that will be complete in mid-2009. The migration is occurring on a collection-by-collection basis. The information on GPO Access will remain current and continue to be available until migration is complete. Users will continue to be able to access all GPO Access content as described in the A-Z Resource List <http://www.gpoaccess.gov/databases.html>.
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers go public
Martin Luther King Jr.’s, which have been digitized and
cataloged, are now available at the Robert W. Woodruff
Library of the Atlanta University Center. To view them, go to: http://www.auctr.edu/mlkcollection/
Morris is down
The address usually used for Morris, the Law Library catalog is not working right now. Until it is, you can gain access to the catalog by using this address: http://ringding.law.yale.edu.
Court uses Facebook
Facebook has hit the big time . . . or medium, anyway. An Australian court has served a default judgment via Facebook! The court reasoned that they allow service by hand, mail, and email. Australian courts have already allowed service by text message and now it's Facebook. Hunting people in the elecctronic world! Here's the article.
Juneau School Board reaches settlement with student Joseph Frederick in 'Bong Hits' case.
In addition to a promise to drop other legal claims, the agreement includes a $45,000 payment to former student. Read more here.
Annual Report of the International Court of Justice
The Annual Report, available here, was presented to the UN General Assembly on October 30, 2008.
Google has reached a settlement with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers in two different law suits arising under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101. The suits were filed in the Southern District of New York on September 20, 2005 and October 19, 2005, respectively, challenging Google's plans to digitize and share copies and snippets of books without express permission from the author. You can log onto Pacer to view the complaints and responses. The password to Pacer is available on the intranet, under library database passwords.
Under the settlement agreement, which remains subject to approval, Google will pay $45 million dollars to resolve existing claims, but it also will allow Google to continue digitizing books and inserts. Read more about the future of Google Book Search, including options for accessing the resources. Of particular note:
We'll also be offering libraries, universities and other organizations the ability to purchase institutional subscriptions, which will give users access to the complete text of millions of titles while compensating authors and publishers for the service. Students and researchers will have access to an electronic library that combines the collections from many of the top universities across the country. Public and university libraries in the U.S. will also be able to offer terminals where readers can access the full text of millions of out-of-print books for free.
Fascinating special issue of the journal Parliamentary History is out. Issue 2 of volume 27 contains texts and studies relating to Parliament in the long 15th century. Articles cover Parliamentary privilege, elections, payment, and other issues. Three appendices cover a calendar of disputes over wages, a list of peers and members of the commons mentioned in the documents, and and a list of parliaments from 1376-1514.
This period includes the period of the devestation and depopulation relating to the Black Death, the War of the Roses, and the rise of the Tudors.
Statutory Structure and Legislative Drafting Conventions: A Primer for Judges
The Federal Judicial Center has published a guide, Statutory Structure
and Legislative Drafting Conventions: A Primer for Judges. Available from here, this guide describes the statutory framework of federal law to assist judges with statutory interpretation.
Roberts on Research
Hmm, the Chief Justice isn't so enamored with the Internet on online research. The Des Moines Register quotes Chief Justice Roberts as saying that "[t]he Internet is a powerful tool that nonetheless threatens to undermine the critical thinking and research skills lawyers need to effectively argue a case". What do you think? Are you able to research online, does the lack of a structure that the print imposes a help or a hinderance?
According to a new U.S. Census Bureau
report, women in legal occupations last year earned only about 51 percent of
men's salaries in the field. The report is available here. Turn to page 38 of the PDF document (page 34 in print) for the specific statisitcal data related to the legal field.
Loss of Federal Electronic Government Information
Robert Pear of The New York Times discusses the enormous
challenges of preserving the vast array of federal online government
information and how countless government records are being lost in an article published on September 13, 2008, entitled, “In Digital Age, Federal Files Blip into Oblivion
Research Preparation for your Supervised Analytical Writing
This fall, the Law Library will be hosting a series of fall research seminars focused on helping law students
prepare for their supervised analytical writing (SAW) assignment by
demonstrating the emerging technologies in the field of legal research.
Students will learn about helpful (and not so helpful) legal
databases, how to search for information and how maintain legal
research records. Lecturers will showcase subscription based as well
as open source tools for legal research. These seminars are open to
the whole law school community. The first event is:
Emerging Technologies in Documenting and Tracking Your Research
Wednesday, September 17, 2008; 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. - Room 112
Participants will learn how to manage their electronic research using tools such as RSS feeds, Zotero, Google, etc. Cookies and light refreshments will be served.
If you were unable to attend this event, please contact Reference Librarian Camilla Tubbs for information on these important research tools.
Finding ABA Journal's 25 greatest legal films at the law library
Following up on John's post from yesterday, below is the full list of ABA Journal's "25 Greatest Legal Films." Clicking on the title of each film will take you to our catalog record for the movie in MORRIS. Check out a few today and have a mini-film festival tonight.
Unlike John, I think My Cousin Vinny more than deserves its #3 ranking. Not only is it funny, but it's an accurate and intelligent portrayal of common courtroom protocols. Two other flicks that do a great job exploring the procedural and ethical problems faced daily by practicing attorneys are Class Action (Michael Apted, 1991) and The Rainmaker (Francis Ford Coppola, 1997), each of which earned a slot on the ABA's list of 25 Honorable Mentions.
My favorite legal film? Night Falls on Manhattan (Sidney Lumet, 1996), which didn't get any love from the ABA. It also hasn't gotten any love from Yale Law School, because it's not in our library collection. (But I can probably change that.)
- To Kill a Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 1962)
- 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 1957)
- My Cousin Vinny (Jonathan Lynn, 1992)
- Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger, 1959)
- Inherit the Wind (Stanley Kramer, 1960)
- Witness for the Prosecution (Billy Wilder, 1959)
- Breaker Morant (Bruce Beresford, 1980)
- Philadelphia (Jonathan Demme, 1993)
- Erin Brockovich (Steven Soderbergh, 2000)
- The Verdict (Sidney Lumet, 1982)
- Presumed Innocent (Alan J. Pakula, 1990)
- Judgement at Nuremberg (Stanley Kramer, 1961)
- A Man for All Seasons (Fred Zinneman, 1966)
- A Few Good Men (Rob Reiner, 1992)
- Chicago (Rob Marshall, 2002)
- Kramer vs. Kramer (Robert Benton, 1979)
- The Paper Chase (James Bridges, 1973)
- Reversal of Fortune (Barbet Schroeder, 1990)
- Compulsion (Richard Fleischer, 1959)
- ...And Justice for All (Norman Jewison, 1979)
- In the Name of the Father (Jim Sheridan, 1993)
- A Civil Action (Steven Zaillian, 1998)
- Young Mr. Lincoln (John Ford, 1939)
- Amistad (Steven Spielberg, 1997)
- Miracle on 34th Street (George Seaton, 1947)
Best Legal Movies?
The ABA Journal has a new article in which it rates the "25 greatest legal movies." My Cousin Vinny at #3!!! C'mon, it was funny and all, but #3? Compulsion all the way down at 19 (why did Leopold and Loeb do the murder, "because we wanted to, hah, hah, hah, hah" and Orson Welles channeling Clarence Darrow)! Take a look and see what you think. If you haven't seen one of the films, check Morris to see if it is in and come check it out.
Investing and retirement, what to do?
Take a look at this recent article.
Ayres, Ian and Nalebuff, Barry J., "Life-Cycle Investing and Leverage: Buying Stock on Margin Can Reduce Retirement Risk"
(May 27, 2008).
Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1139110
Abstract: By employing leverage to gain more
exposure to stocks when young, individuals can achieve better
diversification across time. Using stock data going back to 1871, we
show that buying stock on margin when young combined with more
conservative investments when older stochastically dominates standard
investment strategies - both traditional life-cycle investments and
100%-stock investments. The expected retirement wealth is 90% higher
to life-cycle funds and 19% higher compared to 100% stock investments.
The expected gain would allow workers to retire almost six years
earlier or extend their standard of living during retirement by 27
Constitutional Limits on State's foreign affairs activities
Douglas Kysar (YLS) and Bernadette Meyler (Cornell) have a new paper up at SSRN. The paper is also published in the UCLA Law Review: Kysar, Douglas A. and Meyler, Bernadette A., "Like a Nation State"
UCLA Law Review, Vol.55, No. 6, 2008.
Here's the abstract:
Using California's self-consciously internationalist approach to
climate change regulation as a primary example, this Article examines
constitutional limitations on state foreign affairs activities. In
particular, by focusing on the prospect of California's establishment
of a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions trading system and its eventual
linkage with comparable systems in Europe and elsewhere, this Article
demonstrates that certain constitutional objections to
extrajurisdictional linkage of state GHG emissions trading systems and
the response that these objections necessitate may be more complicated
than previously anticipated. First, successfully combatting the Bush
Administration's potential claim that state-level climate change
activities interfere with a federal executive position of withholding
binding domestic GHG reductions in advance of a multilateral agreement
including key developing nations, will require demonstrating that the
executive branch is not acting with congressional support and has,
furthermore, declared its position too informally to constitute an
exercise of any of the president's independent constitutional powers.
Second, state efforts to link GHG emissions trading systems with those
of other nations may well take them into territory abutting that which
is constitutionally impermissible under the foreign affairs and Foreign
Commerce Clause doctrines. Finally, state efforts to integrate with
other trading schemes or to otherwise protect the integrity of their
own trading schemes must be carefully constructed lest they invite
challenge as being discriminatory or overreaching, in light of more
conventional dormant Commerce Clause constraints on state regulation.
The Law Library of Congress hosted a talk by Australian barrister James Renwick discussing the UK and Australian legislative responses to terrorism since 9/11 and comparing their responses to the response of the United States.
Guns and the SCOTUS
The Law Library of Congress has created a page that pulls together material about the second amendment and the Court.
What paradigm for the gay rights movement?
In a new paper posted at SSRN and post to Balikinization, Professor Heather Gerken argues that equality and, therefore, the equal protection argument, not liberty is the proper and mpst promising paradigm for future gay rights litigation. Here is the abstract to the paper:
This essay - penned as a tribute to Larry Tribe - argues that equality, not liberty, represents the most promising framework for future gay-rights litigation. The paper begins by arguing that the stylistic differences between the two opinions in Lawrence v. Texas signal something important about the shortcomings of the liberty paradigm. As Larry Tribe has written, a liberty claim is won or lost based on what level of generality a court uses to describe it. We thus see Justice Kennedy, with his penchant for abstract prose, describing the case at a high level of generality in vindicating Lawrence's challenge to Texas' sodomy law. But note that the opinion's fluid prose ends precisely when the opinion moves from the general to the specific. Kennedy's high-flown abstractions are ill-suited to addressing facts on the ground. If Justice Kennedy is too abstract in his prose, Justice Scalia is too concrete. Scalia's groundedness makes him the wittiest dissent in cases involving sex, for everything funny about sex lies in our discomfort with the gap between the particular and the abstract. But Scalia's insistence that the case is about nothing more than the right to engage in a particular type of sex act ensures that his opinion, too, misses something important about what is at stake in Lawrence.
Having outlined the shortcomings of the two opinions, the remainder of the essay argues that equal protection, not liberty, is the right paradigm for future gay-rights litigation. Equal protection is pitched at the right level of generality; it captures what we are fighting about. Larry Tribe may find it easy to toggle between liberty and equality when writing about substantive due process. Like Justice Brandeis, he is "the master . . . of both microscope and telescope." In the parts of his work where he connects the Court's liberty decisions, he shows us constellations where the rest of us saw only a random collection of stars. In other parts of his work, he offers a granular view, describing the relationship between liberty and equality as a double helix. For everyday judges and lawyers, however, doctrinal analysis starts with doctrinal categories. It thus seems inevitable that Tribe's double helix will be split. And if courts must choose between these admittedly intertwined paths, we will get closer to the vistas Tribe describes if judges follow the path of equal protection, not liberty. That is because what is a stake in these debates is not whether all humans should enjoy a right, but whether gays and lesbians, in particular, should do so, and that is an idea better capture by the equal protection paradigm. Somewhere between Justice Kennedy's high-flown right to intimate relations and Justice Scalia's down-and-dirty discussion of sodomy is the status of the LGBT community. Equal protection begins with that issue while allowing the Court to write with a worthy tradition behind it.
Market Damages, Efficient Contracting and the Economic Waste Fallacy
is the title of a new paper by Alan Schwartz and Robert E. Scott (Columbia) posted on SSRN. Here's the paper and here's the abstract:
Market damages - the difference between
the market price for goods or services at the time of breach and the
contract price - are the best default rule whenever parties trade in
thick markets: they induce parties to contract efficiently and to trade
if and only if trade is efficient, and they do not create ex ante
inefficiencies. Courts commonly overlook these virtues, however, when
promisors offer a set of services some of which are not separately
priced. For example, a promisor may agree to pay royalties on a mining
lease and later to restore the promisee's property. In these cases,
courts compare the cost to the promisor of providing the service that
was not supplied to the increase in the market value of the
promisee/buyer's property had the promisor/seller performed. When the
cost of completion is large relative to the "market delta"- the
increase in market value - courts concerned to avoid "economic waste"
limit the buyer to the market value increase. This concern is
misguided. Since the buyer commonly prepays for the service at the ex
ante market price, a cost of completion award actually has a
restitution element - the prepaid price - and an expectation interest
element - the market damages. The failure to recognize the joint nature
of cost of completion damages causes courts to deny these damages more
frequently than they should. In this paper, we argue that the
unappreciated virtues of market based damages justify removing the
courts' discretion to deny them no matter how high they appear to be.
The rule that denies buyers market damages induces excessive entry into
these service markets. Moreover, buyers are under-compensated when they
prepay and cannot recover the price paid for the breached services but
instead are restricted to the market delta. As a result, too few buyers
contract ex ante for the relevant service and surplus maximizing
contracts are forgone. Finally, sellers often can take actions in the
interim between making the contract and the time for performance of the
service that would reduce the service cost to manageable proportions.
Sellers are less likely to take these precautions if they are required
to pay buyers only the market delta rather than the full performance
cost that their actions could have avoided.
Another fascinating paper from Professor Hathaway, "The Continuing Influence of the New Haven School." Originally published in 32(2) Yale Journal of International Law in 2007. Here is the abstract:
This Commentary examines the deep and
abiding influence of what has been called the New Haven School of
international law. It considers the connection between the past and the present the ideas first formulated by Myres S. McDougal and Harold D. Lasswell more than a half-century ago, and those, both near and far, whose work they have influenced.
Paper on SSRN
Professor Hathaway has posted a paper originally published in the journal International Organization in 1998 (v. 52, no. 3) on SSRN, entitled "Positive Feedback: The Impact of Trade Liberalization on Industry Demands for Protection".
Here is the abstract:
This article proposes a theory of
dynamic industry preferences and strategies to explain variation in
industries' demand for trade protection over time. This theory shows
how the characteristics of industries affect their demand for trade
policy and how, in turn, trade policy transforms industry
important implication of this theory is that trade liberalization tends
to reduce, rather than increase, industry demand for protection over
the long term. The article begins by developing a static model of
industry decision making that illustrates how producers faced with a
reduction in trade barriers weigh the costs and benefits of political
action and economic adjustment. It then explains how the strategic
choices of an industry are determined by key industry characteristics
that evolve over time in response to changes in trade policy and market
conditions. In particular, it demonstrates that reductions in trade
barriers may have a positive feedback effect that dampens rather than
amplifies domestic protectionist sentiment. To test this model, the
article examines the dramatic postwar transformation of three
industries that have historically demanded and received extensive
import protection: the footwear, textile, and apparel industries. The
article concludes with an assessment of the model and a discussion of
its possible implications for our understanding of the politics of
Review of Kahn, Out of Eden: Adam and Eve and the Problem of Evil
Nice review in the Times Literary Supplement by John Habgood, the former Archbishop of York:
A book which begins with the sentence “Evil makes us Human” must surely compel
attention. This is no ordinary account of what is usually meant by the
problem of evil, where the main emphasis is on justifying the ways of God to
man. Instead, Paul W. Kahn’s aim is to explore the nature of evil itself. He
interprets it, not just as doing or experiencing bad things, but as “a way
of being in the world”. Evil, he claims, is about making ourselves the
source of our own meaning, a meaning inevitably negated by death, the
certainty of which gives urgency and depth to the way life is lived. It is
this consciousness of our mortality, and the refusal to accept its
implications, which can lead to the worship of false gods. Ascribing
ultimate value to what is essentially nothing at all results in what he
calls “a pathology of the will”. Personal evil is essentially about
wilfulness rather than reason, nor can it be subsumed within our rational
understanding. Evil in this sense, as part of our humanity, is not a
fashionable concept, but we have good reasons to recognize it, not least in
--- more ---
Three recent law review articles by members of the faculty:
Ian Ayres and Gideon Parchomovsky, Tradable Patent Rights, 60 Stan. L. Rev. 863 (2007)
Daniel Markovits, Luck Egalitarianism and Political Solidarity, 9 Theoretical Inquiries L. 271 (2008)
Judith Resnik, No Daubert Hearing Necessary: The Extraordinary Expertise of
Margaret Berger, 16 J.L.
& Pol'y 6 (2007)
Law Day, May 1st 2008
The theme of this year's Law Day, "The Rule of Law:
Foundation for Communities of Opportunity and Equity," recognizes the
fundamental role that the rule of law plays in preserving liberty in our
Nation and in all free societies. View President Bush's proclamation here.
Law Professor Accuses Students of Defamation
By LYNNLEY BROWNING, New York Times.
Published: May 1, 2008.
At the University of Arkansas in Little
Rock, a law professor has sued two of his students, alleging that they
defamed him by unfairly describing him as a racist. Read more here
Were patent appeals judges unconstitutionally appointed?
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may have a major problem on its
hands -- the possibly unconstitutional appointment of nearly two-thirds
of its patent appeals judges. Read more about this case here.
Translogic Technology, a company whose patent was rejected, is raising this issue in a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. A copy of the petition is available for viewing at the Law Library Reference Desk.
Lawyers Open Their File Cabinets for a Web Resource
Services are appearing on the Web that
may make it easier for consumers to do their own preliminary homework
on legal issues before seeking professional help. Read more here
House Hearing on Executive Branch Electronic Communications Preservation
The House Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives held a hearing yesterday to address the Electronic Communications Preservation Act (H.R. 5811), sponsored by Chairman of the Committee Henry Waxman (D-CA-30), Chairman of the Subcommittee Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1), and Rep. Paul Hodes
(D-NH-2). The bill directs the Archivist of the United States to
establish standards for the capture, management, retrieval, and
preservation of White House e-mails and other electronic
communications. The Committee’s Press Release, summary of the bill, and
full text of the bill is available here. Transcripts from the hearing are posted here.
Under the Federal Records Act, the National Archives and Records
Administration (NARA) is responsible for assisting Federal agencies in
maintaining adequate and proper documentation of federal records. Given the increased use of electronic communications, federal agencies are potentially creating (and discarding) messages that have the status of federal records. According to a new report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), when GAO reviewed the e-mail management practices of four senior agencies officials they found that, although the agencies’ e-mail records management policies addressed the regulatory requirements, these requirements were not always met for the senior officials.
New SSRN Working Paper
Dan Kahan, Cultural Cognition as a Conception of the Cultural Theory of Risk
Abstract: Cultural cognition refers to the tendency of individuals to form
beliefs about societal dangers that reflect and reinforce their
commitments to particular visions of the ideal society. Cultural
cognition is one of a variety of approaches designed to empirically
test the cultural theory of risk associated with Mary Douglas and Aaron
Wildavsky. This commentary discusses the distinctive features of
cultural cognition as a conception of cultural theory, including its
cultural worldview measures; its emphasis on social psychological
mechanisms that connect individuals' risk perceptions to their cultural
outlooks; and its practical goal of enabling self-conscious management
of popular risk perceptions in the interest of promoting scientifically
sound public policies that are congenial to persons of diverse outlooks.
The Law Library of Congress is hosting two articles by Louis Fisher on Constitutional problems raised by the military commissions/tribunals authorized by President Bush. The site also provides reference to two book-length treatments of the subject by Fisher.
A new article by a member of our faculty has come to our attention. Here is the opening:
In December 2006, the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO) closed an investigation into a case that has become a vexing test for the emerging international anti-corruption regime. The centerpiece of this regime is the Anti-Bribery Convention negotiated under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Convention—to which Britain is a party—requires the State Parties to outlaw overseas bribery. In closing the investigation into corruption involving a large defense procurement contract (dubbed Al Yamamah or “the dove”), the SFO and the Attorney General cited national security concerns.
Susan Rose-Ackerman and Benjamin
Billa, Treaties and National Security, 40 N.Y.U. J. Int'l L. &
Pol. 437 (2008).
The NYU Journal of Law and Politics has more (the whole article :-)).
Info you need about the law library this summer
The Yale Law Library Reference Department is hosting two brief, convenient and informative Out-the-Door sessions. Come get the information you need about using the law library – and what the library staff can do for you – this summer. The half-hour sessions are very informal. Just show up, pick up a handout, ask questions, and get answers. You’ll be in and out in about half an hour.
The schedule is:
4/24/2008 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. SLB Room 109
4/25/2008 10:10 a.m. 10:40 p.m. SLB Room 109
You don’t need to sign up -- just show up. We hope to see you next Thursday or Friday of next week!
Professor Siegel has posted on SSRN a version of a paper to be published in the Duke Law Journal. The paper is entitled: "The Right's Reasons: Constitutional Conflict and the Spread of Woman-Protective Antiabortion Argument". Here is the abstract:
"This Lecture investigates the social
movement dynamics that produced woman-protective antiabortion argument.
The Lecture explores the political conditions under which leaders of
the antiabortion movement began to supplement or even to supplant the
constitutional argument abortion kills a baby with a new argument,
abortion hurts women - a claim that achieved widespread public notice
with the Supreme Court's 2007 decision in Gonzales v. Carhart.
Lecture's genealogy of a social movement claim begins in the 1980s,
when members of the antiabortion movement asserted that abortion
subjects women to regret, trauma, and psychological illness, a
condition they termed post-abortion syndrome (PAS). My story then
follows changes in the abortion-harms-women claim as it was transformed
from PAS - a therapeutic discourse initially employed to dissuade women
from having abortions and to recruit women to the antiabortion cause -
into woman-protective antiabortion argument (WPAA), a political
discourse forged in the heat of social movement conflict that sought to
persuade audiences outside the movement's ranks in electoral campaigns
and in constitutional litigation.
Whereas PAS grew up as a
mobilizing discourse deployed primarily among women volunteers and
clients in the antiabortion movement's crisis pregnancy network - a
context in which abortion-hurts-women testimonials had important
expressive functions - WPAA took shape in political contexts in which
the abortion-hurts-women argument had important strategic functions. In
the 1990s, antiabortion advocates sought to explain to audiences that
ambivalently supported the abortion right why women would benefit from
legal restrictions on abortion. As they did so, they fused PAS claims
and stories with traditional gender-paternalist argument, justifying
restrictions on women's agency as needed to protect women from male
coercion and to free women to be mothers. As a political discourse
designed to rebut feminist, pro-choice claims, WPAA came to internalize
elements of the very arguments it sought to counter - fusing the public
health, trauma, and survivors idiom of PAS with the idiom of the late
twentieth-century feminist and abortion-rights movements. As the
Lecture shows, social movement mobilization, conflict, and coalition
each played a role in the evolution and spread of the woman-protective
antiabortion argument, in the process forging new and distinctly modern
ways to talk about the right to life and the role morality of
motherhood in the therapeutic, public health, and political rights
idiom of late twentieth-century America.
The Lecture concludes
by considering the new gender-paternalist justifications for abortion
restrictions discussed in Carhart. With the spread of woman-protective
antiabortion argument and its seductively modern justifications for
using law to impose motherhood on women, Justice Kennedy and the nation
will once again have to decide - not only how to balance the liberty of
the pregnant woman against the state interest in protecting potential
life - but more fundamentally, about the kind of women that
constitutional guarantees of liberty and equality protect. This
question is far from abstract, as South Dakota once again considers
whether to adopt an abortion ban, justified by fetal-protective and
woman-protective argument, in the 2008 elections."
The Law Library of Congress is making a habit of this
More great information from the Law Library of Congress, this time on the State Secrets Privilege. Here you will find links to several articles, statements, and other material by Louis Fisher regarding the privilege in this decade.
Publishers Sue Georgia State on Digital Reading Matter
Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press and Sage Publications are suing Georgia State University, contending that the school is violating copyright laws by enabling professors to provide students with digital copies of copyrighted course readings published by the plaintiffs. The New York Times has a synopsis of the lawsuit here.
A copy of the complaint may be found here, from the Association of American Publishers' (AAP) website.
New paper at SSRN
Professor Listokin recently posted a new paper entitled "Does Shareholder Voting Maximize Stock Market Value." Here is the abstract:
"This paper examines the relation between
shareholder voting and stock market value from a novel empirical
perspective. If voting maximizes value, then the outcome of close proxy
contests should not have a systematic effect on stock prices; price
setters will anticipate that voting aggregates information efficiently
and will build this expectation into the price of the stock before the
voting outcome is announced The paper shows, however, that close
dissident victories are associated with significant positive movements
in stock prices, while close management victories are associated with
negative stock price effects.
This suggests that voting outcomes favor management rather than
maximizing value, with important policy ramifications. Viewed from a
regression discontinuity (RD) design perspective, the study provides
unique evidence that dissident control of decision making causes
increases in stock value."
The Law Library of Congress comes through again!
One of the great early American examples of a lawyer ensuring that unpopular defendants got a fair trial, even defendants with whom the lawyer may have disagreed took place in Boston in 1770. The lawyer was John Adams and the defendants were the British soldiers who were accused of murder from their involvement in the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770.
The Law Library of Congress has posted copies of three published accounts of the records and transcripts of the trial, a history of the Massacre and trial, and a character sketch of Adams that includes his Speech on the Boston Massacre.
Great reading on one of the great ethical responses of the revolutionary bar!!
Whoa, slow down there
Sometimes the Internet feels slow and there has been a lot of scary press recently about it slowing down further as it gets more congested. Well, maybe we don't have to worry. CERN who brought you the web (and has a hand in the new supercollider) has announced the "grid" a communications network with speeds up to 10000 times faster than the internet!
New Law Library of Congress report on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution
Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution renounces war and prohibits Japan from maintaining the potential to make war. Over the past few years, the very popular provision has been getting a lot of attention as Japan has more often participated in UN peacekeeping activities. It now appears that Article 9 will be amended within the next several years. A report written by the Japanese Foreign Law Specialist
within the Directorate of Legal Research for International,
Comparative, and Foreign Law of the Law Library of Congress has more.
UK Counter-terrorism bill
Parliament is debating a new counter-terrorism bill, it had it's second reading on the 1st. The main elements of the bill are:
- a provision to allow the pre-charge detention of terrorist
suspects to be extended from 28 days to 42 days in certain
- changes to enable the post-charge questioning of terrorist suspects and the drawing of adverse inferences from silence
requirements on people convicted of terrorist offences to let
authorities know where they are living and any changes to their
- enhanced sentencing of offenders who commit offences with a terrorist connection
- provision for inquests and inquiries to be heard without a jury."
By the way, Parliament has a wonderful bill site, no?
U.S. Justice Department releases "torture" memo
The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday released a declassified 2003
memo justifying the use of harsh interrogation methods for suspected
terrorists held abroad. A copy of the memo will be available for viewing at the Law Library reference desk. In a quote to the New York Times, Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School and the Washington College of Law at American University, describes the memo as a
“a road map for the Pentagon for fending off any
Children's Rights in Iran
A new report from the Law Library of Congress has been posted. The report covers and references both international treaty obligations and domestic legislation.
Report on the economic impact of immigration in the UK
Today, the House of Lords released a report on the economic impact of immigration in the UK. Does it have anything to say to the US? The EU? Read it and you decide.
OMB Watch Launches Regulatory Resource Center
OMB Watch has created a Regulatory Resource Center Website, intended to educate users on the regulatory process and teach citizens how to comment on federal regulations using Regulations.gov, the government's portal for public comments.
OMB Watch is a nonprofit government watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C. When OMB Watch first launched a developmental version of the Regulatory Resource Center in October 2007, public response was overwhelmingly positive. OMB Watch will continue to improve the site based on public needs, comments, and concerns. They encourage feedback at any time at: RegResources@ombwatch.org.
Authenticated Public and Private laws for the 110th Congress now on GPO Access.
Beginning with the 110th Congress, the PDF files of Public and Private Laws on GPO Access have been digitally signed and certified to assure users that the online documents are official and authentic. To search or browse Public and Private Laws go to GPO Access.
GPO Access is the website maintained by the U.S. Government Printing Office and provides free electronic access to various government documents. Click on this link for more information about how GPO has begun implementing digital signatures to certain electronic documents on GPO Access.
Dean Harold Koh Comments on Recent High Court Decision Regarding Treaties
"[A]ll Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the
United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in
every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or
laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding." U.S. CONST. art. VI. However, when the Senate ratifies a
treaty with a two-thirds vote, does that mean the treaty provisions are
binding on the states? According to a new ruling by the Supreme Court, they are binding only if the treaty explicitly says so or if there is legislation to make that clear.
The decision is Medellín v. Texas, at is available at: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/07pdf/06-984.pdf As a background note, in the Case Concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mex.U.S.), 2004 I.C.J. 12 (
Avena ), the International Court of Justice (ICJ) held that
the United States had violated Article 36(1)(b) of the Vienna
Convention on Consular Relations (Vienna Convention or Convention) by
failing to inform 51 named Mexican nationals, including petitioner
Medellín, of their Vienna Convention rights. The ICJ found that those
named individuals were entitled to review and reconsideration of their
U.S. state-court convictions and sentences regardless of their failure
to comply with generally applicable state rules governing challenges to
criminal convictions. In Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon, 548 U.S. 331 (2006) issued after
Avena but involving individuals who were not named in the
Avena judgment-the Supreme Court held, contrary to the ICJ's
determination, that the Convention did not preclude the application of
state default rules. The President then issued a memorandum stating that the United States
would “discharge its international obligations” under
Avena “by having State courts give effect to the decision. ”Relying on
the President's Memorandum, Medellín filed a second Texas
state-court habeas application challenging his state capital murder
conviction and death sentence on the ground that he had not been
informed of his Vienna Convention rights. The Texas Court of Criminal
Appeals dismissed Medellín's application as an abuse of the writ,
concluding that neither
Avena nor the President's Memorandum was binding federal law
that could displace the State's limitations on filing successive habeas
applications. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that neither
Avena nor the President's Memorandum constitutes directly
enforceable federal law that pre-empts state limitations on the filing
of successive habeas petitions.
Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh, who served as a State Department
official in the Clinton administration, expressed some concerns over the decision in a statement to National Public Radio: "If our
international allies have no assurance that we're actually going to
keep our word, then they have much less incentive to keep their word
when they're being obliged to do something." To listen to the entire NPR story, go to: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89064847
For more information on treaty research, please see: Marci Hoffman, Researching U.S. Treaties and Agreements (LLRX, May 15, 2001) available at: http://www.llrx.com/features/ustreaty.htm
The EU is ahead in broadband penetration
The European Commission’s 13th Progress Report on the Single Telecoms
Market said that Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg and France are ahead of the US. Why do you think they are? Take a look at the URL to the report for one possible reason.
Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic will be heard on asylum case
On March 17, 2008, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide whether a person who was
compelled, against his will, to assist or take part in persecution is
barred from asylum under the "persecutor bar" at Immigration and
Nationality Act (INA) § 208(b)(2)(A)(i). Section 208 of the
Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1158 provides
that the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney
General may, in his discretion, grant asylum to an alien who
demonstrates that he is a refugee within the meaning of the Act. The
statutory definition of "refugee" excludes "any person who ordered,
incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any
person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a
particular social group, or political opinion." 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(B).
If the evidence indicates that an asylum applicant persecuted any
person, he bears the burden of proving that he did not.
Negusie, caught up in the civil war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, was
drafted and forced to be a guard in an Eritrean prison, where he was
ordered to mistreat prisoners. He eventually escaped, hiding in a
shipping container on a ship bound for the United States. Despite a
finding that he was likely to be tortured if returned to Eritrea, he
was denied asylum because of his activities in the prison.
In rejecting Negusie's immigration appeal, the United States Court
of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in an unpublished decision,
determined that Negusie's intent while being compelled to assist
authorities was irrelevant. Rather, the Court's focus was "on whether
particular conduct can be considered assisting in the persecution of
civilians." Fedorenko v. U.S., 449 U.S. 490, 512 n. 34 (1981). The case opinion is Negusie v. Gonzales, 231 Fed. Appx. 325, No. 06-60193 (5th Cir. May 15, 2007) (per curiam), available at: http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions%5Cunpub%5C06/06-60193.0.wpd.pdf
The Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic was retained to prepare a petition for certiorari and argued that the statutory
history and plain language of the INA's persecutor exception
demonstrate the Congress never intended it to apply to asylum-seekers who have been compelled under threat of torture and death to participate in persecution. See: http://www.yale.edu/supremecourtclinic/pages/cases.html
The DOJ's response is on file at: http://www.usdoj.gov/osg/briefs/2007/0responses/2007-0499.resp.html
The case will be argued during the October 2008 term.
English statutes cleaned up
In the UK, Parliament takes an axe to the laws to eliminate the archaic and obsolete laws. Article here:
"Legal clean-out purges old laws
By Michael Peel, Legal Correspondent
Published: March 19 2008 03:50 | Last updated: March 19 2008 03:50
of allegedly obsolete laws on subjects ranging from the East India
Company to servants who impersonate their masters would be scrapped
under plans before parliament.
The Ministry of Justice said the
pruning of “meaningless and defunct laws” would remove all or part of
328 acts of parliament, although it will leave in force legal oddities
such as the rights of British monarchs to the heads and tails of whales
caught off the country’s shores."
Scrutiny for a Bush Judicial Nominee
3/15/2008 - By ADAM ZAGORIN
As the top lawyer for
America's biggest private prison company, Corrections Corporation of
America (CCA), Gus Puryear IV is known to sport well-pressed preppy
pink shirts, and his brownish mop of hair stands out among most of
President Bush's graying nominees to the federal bench. A favorite of
G.O.P. hard-liners, Puryear, 39, prepped Dick Cheney for the vice
presidential debates — both in 2000 and 2004 — and served as a senior
aide to two former Senators and onetime presidential hopefuls, Bill
Frist and Fred Thompson. For more of this story, go to: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1722065,00.html
Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing website: http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearing.cfm?id=3076
Follow the nomination on THOMAS: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/nomis.html
Corrections Corporation of America's Website: http://www.correctionscorp.com/
House to Close Its Doors for Spying Bill
3/13/2008 - By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: March 13, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democratic leaders agreed Thursday to a
rare closed-door session -- the first in 25 years -- to debate
surveillance legislation. Republicans requested privacy for what they
termed ''an honest debate'' on the new Democratic eavesdropping bill
that is opposed by the White House and most Republicans in Congress. For more of this story, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Terrorist-Surveillance.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 required the
transcription of all public and closed session hearings by all House
and Senate committees. The responsibility for deciding which hearing
transcripts should be published rests with the individual House and
Senate committees. Unpublished hearings transcripts are opened for
general public access according to different schedules by the Senate
and House of Representatives for their respective committees. In the
House, unpublished hearings and records are closed for 30 years, with
investigative hearings of both the House and Senate normally remaining
closed for 50 years.
GAO Report Finds EPA Library Closures Flawed
3/13/2008 - Washington, DC – A new report by the Government
Accountability Office (GAO) finds that the Environmental Protection
Agency's (EPA) effort to close regional and research libraries around
the country has been plagued by managerial problems. The report says
that the decision to close libraries was not justified and strongly
suggests that the entire process EPA has followed in closing the
libraries is flawed and could deprive the public, EPA staff, state and
local agencies, and academics with valuable environmental data. GAO
recommends that EPA continue its moratorium on further changes to its
libraries until it takes actions to justify its decisions, improve
outreach, ensure sufficient oversight, and implement procedures for
dispersing and disposing of materials. For more of this story, see: http://science.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=2127
To address these an other problems, on Thursday, March 13th, the
House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on
Investigations and Oversight held a hearing titled, "EPA Library
Closures: Better Access for a Broader Audience?." The Hearing Charter
is posted on the committee website. It provides some background on the
EPA library closures and outlines five key questions to be addressed
during the hearing. These questions are:
- Did EPA Have a Plan for Maintaining Continuity of Library Services When the Plan Was Implemented in 2006?
- Did EPA Realize Budget Savings Through Implementation of Their Plan?
- Has EPA's Effort to Digitize Library Holdings Resulted in Greater Access to Library Collections?
- Did Implementation of EPA's Plan Ensure Continuity of Library
Services to EPA Employees and the Public or Improve Library Services?
- What Is The Path Forward?
For more information, see: http://science.house.gov/publications/hearings_markups_details.aspx?NewsID=2118
To send your own comments to the House Committee, see: http://science.house.gov/contact/contact_generalform.htm
Census Atlas of the United States
The U.S. Census Bureau has published its first comprehensive atlas of
population and housing since 1920. It includes more than 700 full-color
maps derived from 210 years of official Census data. While the Atlas
will be distributed to Federal Depository Libraries and will be able
for purchase from the U.S. Government Bookstore, the Bureau has also
made the entire atlas available online in PDF format for free. While
the individual chapter files are large and the data is based on the
2000 Census, paints a fascinating and dynamic portrait of the America.
The Atlas interprets population and housing data through maps organized
by: states, counties, cities of more than one million, and major
metropolitan areas of more than four million. See: http://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2000/censusatlas/
Library of Congress Research Reports on Inherent Executive Power
The Law Library of Congress has posted several recent articles by Louis Fisher about inherent executive power in foreign relations and national security contexts.
Now this looks very useful: history meets technology, again!
It has always seemed that history is the area of research best suited
for the heavy use of technology. A new wiki on English medieval legal
documents confirms this again!
The notice of the wiki, published on the listserv of the American
Association of Law Libraries Special Interest Section for Foreign,
Comparative and International Law says, "Hazel Lord, Senior Law
Librarian at the University of Southern California School of Law has
been tirelessly working on a bibliography of published sources of
English medieval legal documents (covering the years 600-1532). What
she had thought originally would only be a few hundred sources, has
blossomed into a list of close to 1,000 sources!"
She has created a wiki for this project. The wiki can be found here: http://emld.usc.edu/tiki-index.php.
She hopes that you will take a look and participate.
Law Firms posting documents/forms
A new web site, JD Supra, offers
documents created by some law firms for reference and form.
Interesting. Firms involved include the EFF, Morrison &
Foerster, Mintz Levin, etc.
So, which State Supreme Court is the most convincing?
A recent study of citations to state supreme court opinions reveals
that the California Supreme Court is most often followed by sister
state supreme court. The New York Times article describing the study includes the following:
In the 65 years ending in 2005, more than 24,000 state high court cases have been followed at least once. California
leads with 1,260 decisions. Washington is next, with 942, and Colorado
is third, with 848. New York comes in 10th and is only about half as
influential as California, with 627 followed cases.
The study, published in the UC Davis Law Review is available here.
A $100 Million Donation to the N.Y. Public Library
New York Times
By Robin Pogrebin
Published: March 11, 2008
The New York Public Library’s venerable lion-guarded building on
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street is to be renamed for the Wall Street
financier Stephen A. Schwarzman, who has agreed to jump-start a $1
billion expansion of the library system with a guaranteed $100 million
of his own.
Click here for more of this story.
New York Public Library's Website: http://www.nypl.org/
Mexico's Senate Approves Judicial Reform
Mexican senators on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a sweeping
judicial reform that would introduce public, oral trials and guarantee
the presumption of innocence. The Senate voted 71 to 25 in favor of the
measure, after a clause that would have let police search homes without
warrants was deleted from it.
Click here for more of this story
Official Website of the Mexican Senate: http://www.senado.gob.mx/
Hansard's Parliamentary Debates
The UK Parliament is planning to put 200 years of its debates online. All
Hansard reports from 1804 through 2004 are scheduled to be digitized
and posted. Currently, Handsard debates from November 1988 are
available at the Parliament web site.
Lawyer and Client Sanctioned $29K for Conduct During a Deposition
U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno of Philadelphia has tallied the
number of times Aaron Wider, the CEO of HTFC, dropped the F-word or a
variant of it in a deposition — it was 73 times — and calculated the
more than $29,000 sanction he and his lawyer Joseph R. Ziccardi should
pay. In his 44-page opinion in GMAC Bank v. HTFC Corp., U.S.
District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno found that Ziccardi was also to blame
for his client's hostile conduct because he failed to stop his client's
tirades and persuade him to answer questions.
(via The Legal Intelligencer)
Library of Congress RSS Feeds
The Library of Congress has a number of RSS feeds. Many are primarily
of interest to those headed to DC, but there are also some excellent
copyright feeds, law feeds, and other interesting feeds. A list of the
feeds with descriptions is available here: http://www.loc.gov/rss/.
Jailhouse Lawyer Under Investigation
From the Associated Press on February 27, 2008...
The prison law clerk who convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a
fellow inmate's drug possession case is being investigated by South
Carolina's Attorney General Henry McMaster
for practicing law without a license. Jailhouse lawyer Michael Ray, who
is serving time for real-estate fraud, drafted an appeal for pro-se
litigant Keith Lavon Burgess arguing that Burgess' 20-year mandatory
minimum sentence was inappropriate because his prior drug conviction
was not a felony but rather a misdemeanor. While Ray does not have
college or law school education, he drafted a fairly clever appeal and
now the Supreme Court has granted review of the case.
Stanford Law School Professor Jeff Fisher will be arguing the case before the Supreme Court on Burgess' behalf.
The case under review is: Burgess v. United States
Supreme Court Docket: 06-11429
Decision Below: 478 F3d 658
Lower Court Case Number: 04-4997
- Whether the term "felony drug offense" as used in the federal statute requiring
imposition of enhanced mandatory minimum 20 years' imprisonment when
drug offender has "prior conviction for a felony drug offense" must be
read in pari material with federal statutes defining both "felony" and
"felony drug offense," so as to require imposition of a minimum 20 year
sentence only if prior drug conviction is both punishable by more than
one year in prison and characterized as a felony by controlling law?
- When the court finds that a criminal statute is ambiguous, must it then turn to rule of lenity to resolve ambiguity?
EU Action Against Microsoft
A € 899 penalty was imposed on Microsoft by
the European Commission for failure to comply with the Commission's
2004 decision. This is the first time that the EU has fined an
organization for failure to comply with one of its decisions.
Here is the first paragraph of the EU Press release.
Antitrust: Commission imposes € 899 million penalty on Microsoft for non-compliance with March 2004 Decision
The European Commission has imposed a penalty payment of € 899 million on
Microsoft for non-compliance with its obligations under the
Commission’s March 2004 Decision (see IP/04/382)
prior to 22 October 2007. Today’s Decision, adopted under Article 24(2)
of Regulation 1/2003, finds that, prior to 22 October 2007, Microsoft
had charged unreasonable prices for access to interface documentation
for work group servers. The 2004 Decision, which was upheld by the
Court of First Instance in September 2007 (see CJE/07/63 and MEMO/07/359),
found that Microsoft had abused its dominant position under Article 82
of the EC Treaty, and required Microsoft to disclose interface
documentation which would allow non-Microsoft work group servers to
achieve full interoperability with Windows PCs and servers at a
The EU Press Release with more detail is here.
Guatemala 'to open war archives'
From BBC News in Guatemala City:
Military archives spanning nearly four decades of civil war in
Guatemala will be opened to the public, the country's President Alvaro
Colom has announced. Some 250,000 civilians were killed or disappeared
in the 36-year conflict, which was ended in 1996 by a UN-sponsored
peace agreement. Mr Colom made Monday's announcement from the balcony
of the National Palace overlooking Guatemala's Central Square.
Demonstrators had gathered from all over the country to hear the news.
For more information on Guatemala, see:
- National Public Radio: Guatemala: Unearthing the Future
- The Historical Clarification Commission (CEH) was established on
June 23, 1994, as part of peace agreements between the Guatemalan
government and the National Guatemalan Revolutionary Unit (URNG), to
investigate human rights violations in the 36-year armed conflict in
this country. The commission's final report, entitled Memory of
Silence, is available in both Spanish and English.
- The National Security Archives: Guatemalan Police Archives
- Sterling Memorial Library's Microform Collections: Guatemala
- WorldLII: Republic of Guatemala
- CIA World Factbook: Guatemala
- News sources:
Yale Law students help a community facing a wave of foreclosures
The wave of foreclosures currently flooding Connecticut court dockets
could be the early stages of a deluge. City of New Haven Mayor John
DeStefano Jr. has assembled a task force is using Yale law students to
gather more details about the scope of the mortgage crisis, and to look
for potential targets of litigation.
GPO And Depository Libraries Partner To Offer Online Reference Assistance
The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) is joining the
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Federal Depository
Libraries around the country to provide an online reference service to
the American public. UIC will manage and maintain this unique free web
based service called "Government Information Online: Ask a
Librarian." It will be supported by nearly 20 public, academic and
state libraries throughout the country. This service will give the
public an opportunity to ask questions about government resources to
librarians who specialize in finding government information on every
An example of how this service works: with the
current process in the Presidential elections, the public may have
questions about the primaries, caucuses and Electoral College process.
A librarian is available at http://govtinfo.org/ to answer those or any other questions about the government.
Yale University currently offers "Ask a Librarian" services to its library patrons, at http://www.library.yale.edu/reference/asklive/index.html
S.M.U. Makes It Official: Bush Library Is Coming
From the February 23, 2008 New York Times...
A center devoted to the life, works, papers and policies of
President Bush will be built at Southern Methodist University, despite
lingering concerns and opposition from some Methodists. In addition to
a library of presidential papers, the center here will include a museum
and a public policy institute that will generally be independent of the
university, though it will appoint at least one board member.
To learn more about Presidential Libraries and executive documents, please visit:
The National Archives Presidential Libraries
The American Presidency Project
Open Access to Research
It is an exciting time for researchers who are rich with intellectual curiosity, but short on cash.
The FY2008 omnibus appropriations bill
contained a provision to establish a new policy directing the National
Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide the public with free online
access to findings from its funded research. Beginning on April 7,
2008, every scientist who publishes the results of research funded by
an NIH grant in a peer-reviewed journal is required to deposit a
digital copy of the article in PubMed Central
the online digital library maintained by the NIH. The public will be
able to access these articles through PubMed Central for free!
Open access to the law has also been in the spotlight recently. Earlier this month, Creative Commons and Public.Resource.Org announced the first release of a case law available for download by developers. The release covers all U.S. Supreme Court decisions and all Court of
Appeals decisions from 1950 forward. The case law was provided by
Fastcase, Inc. which recently announced its new Public Library of Law.
In addition to this
exciting news, PACER is now available at no-fee at sixteen libraries,
thanks to a joint pilot project by the Government Printing Office and
the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
University's Faculty of Arts and Sciences recently approved a plan to
give the University a worldwide license to make each faculty member's
scholarly articles available in a free repository and to exercise the
copyright in the articles, provided that the articles are not sold for
The English Bill of Rights - a bill of responsibilities!
This is really interesting. The proposed new British Bill of Rights looks
increasingly like a bill of responsibilities. Responsibilities that
are enforceable in court!
More from The Guardian:
A new British bill of rights and duties may include duties of
behaviour between fellow citizens that are enforceable by judges, the
justice secretary Jack Straw indicated yesterday. Straw, also lord
chancellor, is planning a British bill of rights to complement the
European convention on human rights. The exercise is separate from a
possible 20-year plan to introduce a potential British written
Straw made his remarks in a speech at George Washington University,
Washington DC, where he also indicated that a written constitution was
20 years away. He said he was looking at a US-style sentencing
commission that might take into account the size of the prison
population in making broad decisions on sentencing.
The Guardian gets into the constitutional conversation
The constitutional conversation is getting interesting. Here The Guardian gets in its two cents (is that pence?):
Evolution not revolution is the way for constitutions to develop -
except, perhaps, at times in history when a real revolution is under
way. That was the message of justice secretary Jack Straw yesterday, as
he spoke to a Washington audience. The tumultuous circumstances of
American independence allowed the founding fathers to build up enduring
rules from first principles; in more ordinary times a constitution
written on a blank sheet will provide only a paper barrier against the
abuse of power.
Fall-Out from Straw's constitutional comments
That didn't take long. Responses to Straw's comments are coming fast
and furious. This will be interesting to watch. Here is an article in
What a difference a few hours make. In the morning, Jack Straw’s
heavily qualified hints about working towards a written constitution
were welcomed by Unlock Democracy, a leading reform group. Then, in the
afternoon, Mr Straw’s full speech, entitled “Modernising the Magna
Carta”, received a more hostile response: “what a load of cobblers,” as
the OurKingdom website put it.
Jack Straw discusses a written constitution for Britain
Jack Straw discussed the
future of the British constitution and bill of rights and
responsibilities on BBC yesterday. The Guardian picks it up:
Britain is unlikely to have a full written constitution for at
least 10 or 20 years, the justice secretary, Jack Straw, said today.
He confirmed that he is drawing up plans for a draft bill of rights
and responsibilities, which would set down in one document the rights
that citizens have, and also their civic duties.
But he stressed that this would not be the same as a new written constitution, such as America's.
A Supreme Court for the UK nears
As a Supreme Court for the UK approaches, appellate judging is in the news. From The Times:
How many law lords does it take to decide a case? Normally, the
answer is five. But last week and this, nine members of the Appellate
Committee of the House of Lords are hearing two important cases. When
the new Supreme Court opens its doors in October 2009, seven or nine
justices should hear every case.
There are 12 law lords, if you count (and no one has done so for a
long time) Lord Saville of Newdigate, who has spent the past ten years
out of the office chairing the inquiry into the 1972 Bloody Sunday
shootings in Northern Ireland and who is unlikely ever to return to
judicial work even when (if ?) he finishes his report. But the
remaining 11 law lords never squeeze around the same table to hear
appeals. Almost all appeals are heard by five law lords. Exceptionally,
nine of them listened to argument last week in a case brought by the
President of the republic of Equatorial Guinea against defendants who
he alleges conspired in England and elsewhere to overthrow the
Government and seize power by means of a coup which, in the event,
failed. And nine judges are this week hearing a case brought against
the Prime Minister by two mothers whose sons were servicemen killed on
duty in Iraq and who contend that there should be an inquiry into
whether the invasion was in breach of international law.
General Report on the European Union's Activities in 2007
An excellent review of the EU's year is now available:
Publication of the General Report on the European Union's Activities in 2007
The Commission has presented the General Report on the activities of
the European Union in 2007 to the European Parliament. Highlights of
the past year were the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon, the enlargement
of the Union to 27 members, the adoption of common objectives to tackle
climate change and the response to the challenges of globalisation.
Marking the publication of the 2007 General Report, President Barroso said: "2007
was a year of policy delivery for European citizens – a year of a
Europe of results. A new policy era was established with unanimous
support by member states for the Commission's ambitious proposals to
tackle climate change and energy security. Historians will no doubt
also remember 2007 as the year of the treaties and will trace the long
road that has led us over 50 years from the Rome treaties to the Lisbon
treaty. We welcomed the citizens of Bulgaria and Romania into the
European Union. The Community institutions designated 2007 as the
European Year of Equal Opportunities for All" to highlight one of the
fundamental values which the European Union is trying to make a
tangible reality for its citizens. This perspective gives a special
significance to the summary of the activities of the European Union
contained in this latest General Report, which covers the many and
varied initiatives and achievements of the first year of the Europe of
The General Report covers the work of all the EU institutions and
bodies and seeks to provide an overview of the notable events and key
trends of EU life in 2007.
A high point of 2007 was undoubtedly the signing of the new Treaty
of Lisbon on 13 December, which came at the right time to celebrate the
50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome. In honour of the 50th
anniversary the Presidents of the European Parliament, the Council and
the Commission also signed the Berlin Declaration, expressing the
European Union's commitment to a body of shared values. 2007 was also
the year of enlargement: the enlargement of the European Union to 27
Member States with the accession of Romania and Bulgaria, the
enlargement of the euro area to include Slovenia and the enlargement of
the Schengen area to include a further nine new members.
The European Union also clearly expressed its determination to play
a leading role in combating climate change, by adopting, in January,
common, binding targets aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by
20%, with the specific aim of limiting global warming to 2 degrees
Globalisation also remained the focus of particular attention from
the European Union, with the European Council adopting a declaration on
globalisation which analyses the challenges and proposes ways of
turning globalisation into an opportunity for Europe's citizens. In
this spirit the EU continued its efforts to implement the Lisbon
strategy. In line with its plan to deliver a Europe of results for its
citizens, the Commission proposed a reform of the internal market
coupled with a debate on a new social vision for 21st-century Europe.
The new General Report, which runs to approximately 250 pages,
follows the concise style used in recent editions. The developments in
the different fields of activity are set out according to the four
strategic objectives adopted by the Commission at the beginning of its
term of office: prosperity, solidarity, security, and Europe's role as
a world partner. Three other chapters are devoted to the life of the
institutions and other bodies, the budget and financial activities and
the general policy framework. The chapter on the general policy
framework emphasises the progress made in 2007 in such fundamental
areas as better regulation, reducing the administrative burden and the
launch of the new Impact Assessment Board.
The General Report is published in 22 official languages and can be consulted via the internet on the EU's Europa website: http://europa.eu/generalreport/en/welcome.htm. It is available from the sales offices for European Community publications.
European Commission presents policy priorities for 2009
So, what does the EU plan for 2009? The Commission released it's
priorities, following is the press release with a link to the document:
Commission presents policy priorities for 2009
The Commission has today presented its Annual Policy Strategy
setting out its political priorities for 2009. It outlines the
Commission's policy objectives in five priority areas: growth and jobs,
climate change and sustainable Europe, making a reality of the common
immigration policy, putting the citizen first, and Europe as a world
partner. The Commission will seek to gain approval for its legislative
initiatives and also look forward by stimulating debate on the internal
market, social agenda and budget reviews.
Commission President, José Manuel Barroso said, "The European
Commission will continue to put its emphasis on delivering concrete
results for European citizens. While we hope to have a new
institutional architecture in place with the entry into force of the
Treaty of Lisbon, our focus will remain on the policy initiatives
presented over recent years. Economic reform, more jobs, tackling
climate change and energy insecurity, migration and more security for
our citizens are at the centre of our priorities for 2009. This
Commission can be proud of the achievements it has already achieved; I
want to make sure that we continue to be just as productive".
During 2009, the Commission will maintain its focus on delivering
results for the benefit of citizens and businesses. Growth and jobs
remain a major policy priority for the Union, backed up by further
efforts to tackle climate change and to meet the energy needs of the
Union. The Commission will follow up on the Single Market review and on
the revised Social Agenda. The Commission will also look forward,
laying the foundations for the years ahead. On of the main highlights
will be the work on the budget review, based on the consultation now
underway, which will pave the way for the preparation of the next
The development of a common immigration policy will be a fundamental
priority in order to meet the challenges and harness the opportunities
provided by migration in an era of globalisation. Initiatives will be
put forward to simplify the life of citizens and ensure their security.
Negotiations with candidate countries will be pursued on the basis of
the renewed consensus on enlargement. Work to develop closer political
and economic ties with partners around the world will continue to
intensify, and new partnerships with African countries will be
implemented in the context of the Africa/EU strategy. The Commission
will also continue to deliver on its better regulation agenda, to focus
on the proper enforcement of EU legislation and to ensure the sound
management of financial programmes.
2009 will be an important year for the European Union, marked by the
possible entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, a new European
Parliament and a new European Commission.
In addition to the Commission's policy priorities to be taken
forward in 2009, the Annual Policy Strategy proposes an allocation of
human and financial resources to reinforce the Commission's ability to
deliver in priority areas. The Annual Policy Strategy also identifies
the main communication priorities for 2009. The Commission will give
specific focus in 2009 to the new possibilities and benefits offered by
the Treaty of Lisbon to the citizens of the Union (subject to its entry
into force), the review of the EU budget, growth and jobs presented in
the perspective of citizens' concerns, and energy and climate change.
On the basis of this Annual Policy Strategy, the Commission will
initiate an exchange of views with the European Parliament and Council
on where the policy priorities should lie in 2009, and how this should
be reflected in the Commission's legislative and work programme to be
adopted in October and in the budget for 2009.
More information and the Annual Policy Strategy 2009 can be found at:
Bush budget requests going electronic
This year, when President George W. Bush submits his budget requests to
Congress, the White House only plans to post it on the Internet.
Therefore, lawmakers will need to dig into their own pockets if they
want an official print copy. In the past, the administration gave away
about 3,000 free copies of its budget proposal to lawmakers, federal
agencies and members of the media. Now, official copies are $213 each -
or approximately ten cents per page for the nearly 2,200-pages budget.
This switching to an e-budget, saves nearly 20 tons of paper, about 480
2008 State of the Union
The official White House website has plenty of information about last
night's State of the Union address by Pres. Bush. This includes a
complete transcript as well as a video webcast of the entire speech.
For all of this, visit the White House's State of the Union page.
Wall Street Journal continues charging for website
Despite early promising comments from new owner Rupert Murdoch, the Wall Street Journal announced
last week that it will continue to charge users to access the majority
of information contained on the newspaper's website. There is however a
positive spin to the announcement:
Mr. Murdoch made his latest comments at the World Economic
Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in answering a question. "We are going to
greatly expand and improve the free part of The Wall Street Journal
online, but there will still be a strong offering" for subscribers, he
said. "The really special things will still be a subscription service,
and, sorry to tell you, probably more expensive."
The Journal's decision bucks a recent trend of print publications, such the New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly, who have removed subscription barriers and made a large portion of their archives freely available online.