Research & Litigation
You may know the story of James Smithson, the English scientist who bequeathed the equivalent of US$541,379.63 to the United States for the founding of the Smithsonian Institution, “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” This donation came as a surprise because the Englishman had never traveled to the United States.
Congress established a Board of Regents in 1894 to conduct the business of the Institution and specifically named titled officials and other people to compose the group: “the Vice President; the Chief Justice of the United States; three Members of the Senate; three Members of the House of Representatives, and; nine other persons other than Members of Congress, two of whom shall be resident in the city of Washington, and seven of whom shall be inhabitants of some State, but no two of them of the same State.” The President of the United States selects the Senators who will serve; the Speaker of the House selects the Representatives; and Congress selects the other nine individuals via a joint resolution.
In a given law, Congress establishes each new museum, sometimes describing with detail the designated site for the new building and granting powers to remove any existing structures from the site. Among the laws establishing the museums in the early to mid-twentieth century, no consistent pattern of legislating appears. For example, only a few of the laws mention the establishment of a governing body for the individual museum (a commission, a board of trustees, or council – the exact term has changed over the years and depended on the extent of the body’s governance), its authority and duties, and some specifics about its membership composition.
I am finding that in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century the laws establishing a new museum tend to be much more detailed in the creation of the new entity. The law establishing the National Museum of the American Indian, for example, includes details on the square footage of the finished building, the handling of Indian human remains, and the transfer of assets from the Heye Foundation (which made up the core of the collections). The law establishing the NAAHC was approved December 16, 2003, and it includes the initial amount of appropriations, percentage of cost-sharing (federal versus non-federal funds), specific educational program priorities, and the nine organizations and Congressional committees that must be consulted during the siting of the building.
Establishing the entity through law is just one part of what it takes to raise a new museum. Indeed, it is dizzying to think of the effort from all sides – fundraising, architecture and construction, exhibition curation, visitor management, and more – involved in creating a national institution to preserve cultural heritage.
The first Legacy Library catalog to become part of the do-it-yourself library catalogs on librarything.com was, appropriately enough, a list of the books belonging to Thomas Jefferson. This list is now maintained by librarians at Monticello. After the destruction of the first Library of Congress by the British in the War of 1812, Jefferson sold 6,487 books from his personal library to form the core of the new Library of Congress. Congress paid him $23,950 for these books. The Library of Congress is attempting to reassemble Jefferson’s library as it was sold to Congress, with the exact editions that he owned. “On the Hunt for Jefferson’s Lost Books” gives details about the search.
In 2008, LibraryThing launched the Libraries of Early America project, an effort to create an as comprehensive as possible database of early American private libraries through 1800. It is not surprsing to find lawyers among the list of early Americans with libraries, and it is interesting to note what law books they may have owned and used. Catalogs of the libraries of John Adams, Francis Dana and Joseph Story provide examples of Massachusetts lawyers' Legacy Libraries.
In 1978, Herbert A. Johnson published Imported Eighteenth-Century Law Treatises in American Libraries 1700-1799. Like Legacy Libraries, “this is a composite bibliography developed through the examiniation of extant eighteeth-century law libraries and the reconstruction of other libraries from surviving lists or estate inventories showing library holdings.” It “attempts to assemble in a convenient form a list of imported law books that were in active use in eighteenth-century America.”
When talking about early American law books, one would be remiss not to mention Morris L. Cohen’s seminal 7 volume work, the Bibliography of Early American Law, popularly known as BEAL. With over 14,000 entries, BEAL "lists and describes the monographic and trial literature of American law published in this country or abroad, from its beginnings to the end of 1860."
This week’s interview is with Goran Seferovic who has been our scholar in residence at the Law Library of Congress this past summer. This interview is part of a series that introduces our scholars and summer interns to In Custodia Legis readers. Dr. Seferovic is a senior research associate at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Law. It has been a pleasure interacting with Dr. Seferovic and learning from him about comparative aspects of direct democracy, a subject he is currently researching extensively for a book.
Describe your background.
I studied law at the University of Zurich Switzerland, where I obtained my doctorate in 2010, for my dissertation, Das Schweizerische Bundesgericht 1848-1874: Die Bundesgerichtsbarkeit im frühen Bundesstaat, on the history of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court (1848-1874). After passing the Zurich bar exam, I joined the Institute of Law at the University of Zurich in 2012, where I am now a senior research associate.
As a senior research associate I teach Swiss constitutional law and conduct research. I am currently engaged in a comparative study of the incorporation of direct democracy into the system of representative government in Switzerland, the United States and Germany.
In addition to researching for my own study I have been working for the Global Legal Research Center which is the unit of the Law Library of Congress that provides research on foreign jurisdictions. In that position I participated in answering requests from the United States Congress, the federal government and even private persons, covering the jurisdictions of the German speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland). I also contributed some posts to the Global Legal Monitor, a Law Library of Congress online publication that covers legal developments around the world.
Why did you want to do research at the Law Library of Congress?
Since I am comparing Switzerland, the U.S. and Germany in terms of direct democracy, I was looking for a place to access American legal resources. The vast collection of the Law Library and the attractive scholarly program that it offers inspired me to apply for a position as scholar in residence at the Law Library.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
Unlike the Swiss Parliament, the United States Congress has its own library and research services. While the Swiss Parliament has a library, the majority of legislative research is done by the federal administration, which is part of the Executive Branch. This reflects a different understanding of the principle of separation of powers in the United States and Switzerland. I was surprised to learn that the Library of Congress not only provides services to Congress and other government institutions, but also provides reference services to the public for free.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
Before my career in law, I did an apprenticeship as a lab technician and worked at the research department of a chemical company that produces flavors and fragrances for three years.
Worried about the recent data security breaches at your local department stores? What are the current laws protecting us from identity theft?
Take a look at our webpage on Massachusetts Laws about Identity Theft by clicking here.
Within that page is the link to the Attorney General’s Guide on Identity Theft for Victims and Consumers.
Do you have a Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library card? If so, you can access the HeinOnline journal database to read the following law journal articles:
· Cybersecurity in the Payment Card Industry, by Richard Epstein and Thomas P. Brown, 75 University of Chicago Law Review 2008, pages 203 – 224.
· Government and Private Sector Roles in Providing Information Security in the U.S. Financial Services Industry, by Mark MacCarthy from I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, 8 ISJLP 1 2012-2013, pages 242 - 276.
· State Responsibility for Cyber Attacks: Competing Standards for a Growing Problem, by Scott J. Shackelford and Richard B. Andres, 42 Georgetown Journal of International Law, 42 Geo. J. Int’l L. pages 971 - 1016, 2010-2011.
Don’t have a Law Library card yet? It’s easy to apply for one at any of our 17 Trial Court Law Libraries. Click here for the link to our locations and hours of operation.Interested in reading some additional articles? These are from the Bloomberg Businessweek’s website:
- Home Depot Hacked After Months of Security Warnings, posted on September 18, 2014.
- Home Depot Malware Hints at Different Hackers Than Target’s, posted on September 11,2104.
- Home Depot’s Suspected Breach Looks Just Like the Target Hack, posted on September2, 2014 and
- Missed Alarms and 40 Million Stolen Credit Card Numbers: How Target Blew It, posted on March 13, 2014.
This is a guest post by Anne Guha, legal information analyst with the Law Library Public Services Division.
As Margaret explained in a previous blog post, recently we have been preparing the Law Library Reading Room, located in Room 201 in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, for a much-needed renovation. In order to allow the room to be renovated, our staff is in the process of moving Reading Room collections into a temporary space on the Ground Floor of the Madison Building. This temporary space will be open to the public in mid-October.
Over the next couple of weeks while the move is taking place, there are some items in our Reading Room collection that will be inaccessible until we are settled in the temporary Reading Room. The majority of the Law Library’s collection, which is in closed stacks, is still retrievable and available during this move. This post describes our policies for accessing Reading Room collections as we complete our transition over the next couple of weeks. For questions, clarification, or assistance, please feel free to contact the Law Library Reading Room at (202) 707-5080.
Using the Catalog to Identify Reading Room Items
Before visiting the Law Library Reading Room, we recommend that patrons search for the items they are interested in by using our online catalog. Once you have located the record for an item of interest, click “Where to Request” in the upper right-hand corner or scroll down to examine the shaded “Where to Request” area.
From this area, you will learn which Library of Congress Reading Room services the item (next to “Request in”) and you also will find a list of the copies of that item in our collection, including a call number for each copy. If you are familiar with our catalog, you’ll know that Law Library items with an “RR” at the end of their call numbers are located in the Reading Room, whereas items without an “RR” are, generally-speaking, located in our closed stacks. In Example One, above, you can see that “Copy 1″ is located in the Law Library Reading Room because of the “RR” designation in its Call Number, and you can also see that there is an additional copy, “Copy 2″, which is located down in the closed stacks.
Policies for Accessing Reading Room Items During our Move
During our transition, only the Reading Room (“RR”) items that remain in Room 201 at the time of request will be accessible to patrons. For safety and security reasons, the Law Library Reading Room will not be servicing any Reading Room copies that are in the process of being moved or transitioned. For “RR” items having an additional copy in our stacks (as in Example One, above), the additional copies can be ordered through ACS as usual for delivery to Room 201. For “RR” items having only a single Reading Room copy (as in Example Two, below), if these materials have been removed from Room 201 they will not be accessible to the public until our transition into our temporary location on the Ground Floor is complete.
As soon as the temporary Reading Room is cleared for safety and open for business, complete service will resume, and all “RR” items will be retrievable for patrons. If you have interest in an “RR” item in the meantime, we recommend that you call the Law Library Reading Room first at (202) 707-5080 to learn whether that item will be available. We will also provide an update on this blog when our temporary Reading Room opens.
For items that cannot be serviced during our transition, we refer patrons to other local law libraries that may have the materials they need. The following is a selective list of law libraries located in the D.C. metro area which are open to members of the public. Prior to visiting, we recommend that patrons call or review the websites of these libraries to learn their policies, confirm their hours, and see whether the items needed are in their catalogs. A more complete list of local law libraries is provided on the George Mason Law Library website.
Virginia Public Law Libraries
Arlington County Walter T. McCarthy Law Library
1425 N. Courthouse Rd, Suite 1700, Arlington, VA
Hours: Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 4 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Courthouse (Silver/Orange)
Alexandria Law Library
520 King St., LL34, Alexandria, VA
Hours: Mon-Fri: 9 am-2 pm
Closest Metro Stop: King Street (Blue/Yellow)
Fairfax County Courthouse Public Law Library
4110 Chain Bridge Rd., Suite 115, Fairfax, VA
Hours: Mon & Thurs: 8 am – 7 pm; Tues, Wed & Fri: 8 am – 4:30 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Vienna-Fairfax-GMU (Orange) (4.6 miles away)
Maryland Public Law Libraries
Montgomery County Circuit Court Law Library
50 Maryland Ave, Rm 326, Rockville, MD
Hours: Mon – Fri: 8 am – 5:30 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Rockville (Red)
Prince George’s County Law Library
14735 Main Street, Rm M1400, Upper Marlboro, MD
Hours: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm on regular court days
Anne Arundel County Public Law Library
7 Church Circle, Suite 303, Annapolis, MD
Hours: Mon – Fri: 9 am – 4:30 pm
Academic Law Libraries
Pence Law Library (American University Washington College of Law)
4801 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC
Hours: Mon – Fri: 8 am – 8 pm; Sat & Sun: 9 am – 5 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Tenleytown-AU (Red)
Judge Kathryn J. Dufour Law Library (Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law)
3600 John McCormack Rd., NE, Washington DC
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 7:30 am – 11:45 pm; Fri: 7:30 am – 8:45 pm; Sat: 9 am – 8:45pm; Sun: 9 am – 11:45 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Brookland-CUA (Red)
George Mason Law Library (George Mason University School of Law)
3301 N Fairfax Dr., Arlington, VA
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 8 am – 11 pm; Fri: 8 am – 10 pm; Sat: 10 am – 10 pm; Sun: 10 am – 11 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Clarendon (Silver/Orange) or Virginia Square-GMU (Silver/Orange)
Charles N. and Hilda H. M. Mason Law Library (U.D.C. Clarke School of Law)
4200 Connecticut Ave, N.W., Washington, DC
Hours: Mon-Fri: 8 am-11 pm; Sat: 10 am-6 pm; Sun: Noon-8 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Van Ness-UDC (Red)
Howard University Law Library (Howard University Law School)
2929 Van Ness Street, NW, Washington, DC
Hours: Mon – Fri: 7 am – 11 pm; Sat: 9 am – 10 pm; Sun: 11 am – 11 pm
Closest Metro Stop: Van Ness-UDC (Red)
The following is a guest post by Elin Hofverberg, a foreign law research consultant who covers Scandinavian countries at the Law Library of Congress. Elin has previously written about the bicentenary of Norway’s constitution and a boarding school scandal in Sweden for In Custodia Legis.
When I conduct research on Scandinavian jurisdictions here at the Law Library of Congress I am often amazed by how easy it is to access a lot of the material. The country that has really gone above and beyond to make researching its laws easier is Norway.
In 2001, Norway was the first country in Europe to make the online publication of its laws an official version. Now the National Library of Norway is bringing the country’s whole history into the 21st century by working towards digitizing its entire collection, providing free access to any person with a computer and a Norwegian IP address. Soon people in Norway will be able to read these materials on their smartphones while riding the bus to work or drinking their morning coffee!
For the rest of us located outside of Norway, we are still able to access the main sources of Norwegian law for free. All current legislation is available at www.lovdata.no. Of course, it helps to be able to read Norwegian, but thankfully the University of Oslo makes (unofficial) translations of legislation available on its website. You can search in English and, if you just want to browse, clicking search without entering any information will give you a long list of translated acts to go through. Be careful to check that the act you are looking at contains all the amendments – Scandinavian laws are amended quite frequently. It is also great that English summaries and translations of recent Supreme Court cases can be found on the Court’s website.
Another useful source is the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) website, which has recently made parliamentary material from 1814 to 2001 available online (in Norwegian only). The Norwegian government homepage is also a good starting point for researching laws and regulations and their broader context.
There are also a number of physical resources here at the Law Library that can help you get a better feel for the context of Norwegian legislation. Reading the 1814 independence material online is efficient and handy but the fact that the text has survived 200 years becomes very real when turning the frail pages of a 19th century book. Although I would never dare read it while drinking my morning coffee!
The Library of Congress has several books on the history of the 1814 events:
- Erik Vullum, Hvorledes Norge Blev Frit [How Norway Became Independent] (1914)
- KONG Christian Frederiks VIII Dagbok 1814 Fra Hans Ophold i Norge i 1814 [King Christian Frederiks VIII Diary 1814 from his Visit to Norway in 1814] (1918)
- Nils Höjer, Norska Grundlagen och dess Källor [The Norwegian Constitution and its Sources] (1882)
Resources about the legal relationship between the Scandinavian countries in general include:
- Danske og Norske Lov i 300 år, Festskriftet er Udgivet i Anledning af 300året of Udstedelsen af Christian V’s Danske Lov [Danish and Norwegian Law for 300 years] (1983)
- Kong Christian den Femtes Norske Lov [King Christian the Fifths Norwegian Law] (1800)
- Erik Lönnroth, Sverige och Kalmar-Unionen, 1397-1457 [Sweden and the Kalmar Union] (1934)
- Valdemars Sonner og Unionen [Valdemars Sons and the Union] (1960)
Another interesting historic title is: Snorre Sturlasson, Heimskringla; or, the Lives of the Norse Kings (1932). In addition, some of the earliest laws of Norway have been translated into English in a 1935 book that was recently republished in 2008.
In terms of primary legal resources, the Law Library has both current and historic versions of Norway’s legislation: Norges Lover. Copies of the laws from the official gazette, Norsk Lovtidend, are also available to researchers. Digitized copies of the gazette published after 2001 are provided on the Lovdata website.
There is a guide to online resources for Norwegian legal research on the Law Library’s website as part of the Guide to Law Online. The Law Library has also published a report that discusses the laws related to the massacre that took place in Norway in 2011.
For select Norwegian legal news see the Law Library’s Global Legal Monitor.
Please stop by to use our collection and let us know if you need help finding anything related to Norwegian law.
Endangered Species Legislation and the 100th Anniversary of the Death of Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon
Prior to Martha’s death, individual state legislatures tried to pass laws that might have protected the Passenger Pigeons, to no avail. Subsequent conservation actions and federal legislation have made a difference in saving species under threat of extinction.
In “Saving our Birds”, a meditation on Martha’s death and the extinction of her kind in theNew York Times, John W. Fitzpatrick wrote
“The Endangered Species Act [of 1973] is by far the most powerful piece of environmental legislation ever passed. Today, the act continues to be a source of on-the-ground success — a steadfast reminder that timely conservation pays off . . . On this centenary of Martha’s death, it bears reflection that a strong federal Endangered Species Act would have saved the passenger pigeon a century and a half ago.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal partner responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act. Their website devoted to Endangered Species is a rich source of information for anyone interested in the conservation of species.
Massachusetts has its own Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) in M.G.L. c. 131A, with implementing regulations at 321 CMR 10.00. The Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP), part of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, is responsible for protecting endangered vertebrate and invertebrate animals and native plants and maintaining the official Massachusetts List of Endangered, Threatened or Special Concern Species.
This database allows you to search Federal, State and Local election statistics since 1970, providing a breakdown of vote total by county, town, ward, and even precinct. Full-text of ballot initiatives and results are available from 1972 to 2012. You can also run a search by candidate and the website will provide a historial overview of all elections that they have run in, their success rate, and a list of their opponents in those races.
See our webpage, "Massachusetts Law About Elections and Voting."
Remember to Vote in the Election, Tuesday, November 4, 2014. Polling Hours are 7am until 8pm. See 2014 State Election Candidates.
On September 29th, the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to decide whether or not they would hear the case in which the family of Jack Kirby sued Marvel Comics (now owned by Disney) for compensation for the creations of Jack Kirby. It was expected to be a landmark case in copyright law. It will never be heard, because Marvel Comics has settled the case (on September 26th), just days before it might have gone to the Supreme Court Justices.
To read about this, one might consider these articles in the news:
How the Supreme Court and Jack Kirby Could Change Everything.
Marvel and Jack Kirby Family Settle Long-Running Legal Dispute.
Marvel & Jack Kirby Heirs Settle Legal Dispute Ahead of Supreme Court Showdown
Wikipedia has information on Jack Kirby's life and career in general.
For information on copyright law, see the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries web page "Law on Copyright".
For a refresher on Laws of the Road, download the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Drivers Manual.
The Library of Congress launched Congress.gov in beta two years ago. Today, I’m happy to announce we officially removed the beta label. That’s roughly three years quicker than Gmail took to remove its beta label, but we won’t give you the option of putting it back on Congress.gov. URLs that include beta.Congress.gov will be redirected to Congress.gov.
There are a range of new enhancements in this release. One of the exciting additions is a new Resources section. This section provides an A-to-Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress. If you are not sure where something is located, try looking through this list. I quickly jump through the list using Ctrl+F and searching. You can find the new Resources page in the navigation on the top right or in the footer on every page. Check it out and leave a comment below.
With our February Congress.gov update, we added Browse and Advanced Search. Both of those have been improved with today’s release. You can now browse a list of bills sponsored and cosponsored by all Representatives or Senators. There’s also a great days in session calendar view which links directly to each day’s Congressional Record. Instead of focusing on just one Congress, you now have the option to browse across all Congresses. The Advanced Search has improved with more than thirty new fields available to construct increasingly detailed and intricate searches that you can then save.
The popular Top Ten on THOMAS has now morphed into the Most Viewed on Congress.gov. We’ve had the three most-viewed bills on our homepage since the site launched but now there is an expanded view with an archive going back to late July.
House Committee hearings and meetings are now available to watch live on Congress.gov. An icon appears next to each committee that is broadcasting. Archived videos going back to January 2012 are available to view and are listed by date.
We really value the feedback that we receive about Congress.gov. Whether it is a comment on this blog, via the feedback form, or a tweet, we read them all. One of the items suggested was to have a page where you can quickly see what is in each tab. With this release, there is now a link to “All Bill Information (Except Text)” from legislation, which provides a list of the summary, major actions, all actions, titles, subjects, cosponsors, committees, and related bills.
New feature – Congress.gov Resources
- Congress.gov Resources enhances the accessibility and comprehension of Congress.gov content through a variety of information curated by information professionals at the Library of Congress.
- The new section features enhanced access to the top-ten most viewed bills, as well as an archive.
New Feature – House Committee Hearing Videos
- The House Committee video live streams and archives are now available in Congress.gov. They may be accessed through a landing page and through Committee profile pages.
Improvement – Advanced Search:
- The new advanced search adds support for a number of additional fields, including nominations, Congressional Record, and member. Additional legislative fields are also supported.
- The bioguide ID available when searching member fields and the committee ID is now supported when searching committee fields.
- Advanced search now defaults to two open advanced search “lines.”
- A search of legislation now defaults to the current Congress.
Improvement – Browse:
- The Browse page has been restructured.
- You may now search across all Congresses in Browse.
- New reports and tables are available to display:
- Bill by Sponsor/Cosponsor
- Days in Session Calendar
- Roll Call Votes
- The bill type is now a multi-select facet.
- A “view all” version of the bill detail page is available.
- Member profile page urls support the bioguide ID.
- Committee profile pages include a Committee facet.
Just because the beta label has been removed doesn’t mean we will not still be hard at work updating the website. We have a plan for new features and enhancements to launch throughout the next year and beyond.
The Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs offers a wealth of information to assist you in deciding whether assisted living is the right option for you or your family member in choosing the most appropriate residence. Massachusetts considers the facilities similar to apartment living rather than a long-term care nursing facilities.
Prior to making a decision to move into a facility, a prospective resident is giving the Assisted Living in Massachusetts: A Consumer’s Guide. The guide includes questions and answers and other helpful information about costs, the residency agreement or contract, the disclosure of rights and services, staffing and services, activities, Special Care Residences, and more. There is also a “consumer checklist” for you to use when you visit a facility.
MassResources.org has additional information including the affordability of assisted living, eligibility, benefits, and so much more.
Choosing the Best Long-Term Care Option, a publication provided by the Attorney General outlines the options available including questions to ask a potential caregiver.