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Research & Litigation

Legal Research Reports: Mass Timber Construction

Law Library of Congress: Research Reports - Wed, 11/30/2022 - 10:30am

The Law Library of Congress is proud to present the report, Mass Timber Construction

This report examines the use of mass timber, also known as cross-laminated timber, in the construction of buildings in ten countries. According to Natural Resources Canada, mass timber is “a transformative technology made by affixing or gluing together many pieces of wood veneers, flakes or dimension lumber to form larger, stronger pieces such as panels and beams.” The report consists of a comparative summary followed by individual country surveys for ten countries. The countries surveyed are Australia, Austria, Canada, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. (September 2022)

Categories: Research & Litigation

Law Library of Congress Report Examines the Canadian Emergencies Act

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 11/30/2022 - 9:30am

The following is a guest post by Michael Chalupovitsch, a foreign law specialist at the Law Library of Congress covering Canada and Caribbean jurisdictions.

A recently published Law Library of Congress report, entitled Canada: the Emergencies Act, examines the history and operation of emergency legislation at the federal level in Canada.

Title page of the Law Library’s report “Canada: The Emergencies Act.”

The genesis of the Emergencies Act was the need to reform the previous War Measures Act, which was in force during the two world wars, and the October Crisis of 1970. Critics of the War Measures Act alleged that it trampled on human rights, such as due process, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. It was used, for example, to intern Japanese-Canadians during World War II and to detain many sympathizers of the Quebec separatist movement in 1970. With the introduction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, a new law was needed to address those concerns.

The Emergencies Act, enacted in 1988, grants the government sweeping powers in the event of a public order, public health, international, or war emergency, but the exercise of these powers must be compliant with the constitutional rights guaranteed in the Charter, or, if they run afoul of the Charter, must be “reasonably justified in a free and democratic society” using a proportionality test.

To date, the federal government has only invoked the Emergencies Act once, in 2022, during the occupation of downtown Ottawa and blockade of border crossings by opponents of COVID-19 mitigation measures. The declaration of a public order emergency enabled the federal government to promulgate regulations restricting gatherings, implementing the removal of blockades through force, and freezing the bank accounts of organizers of the blockades.

The declaration also set in motion a variety of accountability mechanisms including parliamentary debate and concurrence in the declaration, a multi-partisan parliamentary committee, and a formal commission of inquiry. The commission is currently hearing from witnesses, including organizers of the blockades, police officials, municipal politicians, and federal politicians including the prime minister. The commission’s report on the circumstances leading up to the declaration and the justification of the declaration is due to be released in February 2023.

The report is part of the Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress) collection which contains to date more than 3,000 current and historical reports, authored by Law Library of Congress specialists and analysts on a variety of legal topics.

Law Library of Congress Resources

Block, Eric S. & Goldenberg, Adam, Emergency law in Canada: commentary and legislation, Toronto, Ontario: LexisNexis Canada Inc., 2021,

Legaré, Anne, La crise d’octobre, le monde et nous, Montreal, Quebec, Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 2021,

Stranger-Ross, Jordan, ed., Landscapes of injustice: a new perspective on the internment and dispossession of Japanese Canadians, Montreal, Quebec, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020,

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Keep Out! A Radioactive Waste Primer

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 11/29/2022 - 8:52am

The following is a guest post by Molly Benson, an intern with the Digital Resources Division of the Law Library of Congress. She is a current M.L.I.S. student at the University of Washington

Radiation warning sign in front of A&B No. 3 Mine on Navajo Nation. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Since the rise of the nuclear power industry in the 1950s, radioactive waste has been a contentious subject in the United States, particularly highly radioactive waste resulting from nuclear power and defense. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (Pub. L. 83-703, 68 Stat. 919) first established regulation around the disposal of radioactive waste. Later came the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 (Pub. L. 95-605, 92 Stat. 3021), Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (Pub. L. 97-425, 96 Stat. 2201), and Low-level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985 (Pub. L. 99-240, 99 Stat. 1842). These pieces of legislation outline the proper disposal and regulation of radioactive material, which is overseen by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Radioactive waste is produced by multiple industries, including nuclear power generation, military defense, research, medicine, and mining. According to the EPA, there are five categories of radioactive waste in the United States, each with different disposal guidelines.

I will provide a brief overview of high-level waste, low-level waste, and uranium mining and mill tailings, which make up most of the radioactive waste in the United States.

High-Level Waste

Nuclear power plant. Highsmith, Carol M. [Between 1980 and 2006]. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Material that can be fatal within short periods of direct exposure is considered high-level waste (HLW). It comes from commercial nuclear power sites and military defense research and development programs. Some of this material continues to be dangerously radioactive for 10,000 years or more (page 28). Most HLW in the U.S. is spent nuclear fuel from commercial power generation.

A spent fuel pool at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Clemente, Calif. Source: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Public Domain)

Commercial nuclear power plants use fuel rods in their process. When these spent fuel rods are removed from a nuclear reactor they are very hot and highly radioactive. To cool them down and block the radiation, the rods are submerged in large pools of water. After 7-10 years (page 29) of cooling, the spent fuel rods can be transferred to dry storage casks. These storage containers were developed in the 1970s and 80s when many spent fuel pools were reaching capacity at reactor sites across the country.

The final step for disposal of HLW would be burial in a geologic repository deep underground. However, there is currently no geologic repository for HLW in the United States, so most of this type of waste is stored at the site where it was produced. Today, there are approximately 80,000 metric tons of high-level waste stored at 57 operating reactor sites and 23 decommissioned sites.

Low-Level Waste

Most of the waste that comes out of commercial nuclear power generation is considered low-level waste (LLW). The classification of LLW also includes contaminated materials such as clothing, rags, filters, and waste incidental to some medical equipment and research. As the EPA notes: “Much of this waste looks like common items such as paper, rags, plastic bags, protective clothing, cardboard, and packaging material.” The level of radioactivity of LLW ranges broadly from just above background levels to highly radioactive.

Under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, the NRC can delegate state regulatory authority to participating states, called agreement states. Agreement States manage the regulation of LLW disposal and mill tailings within their state, with the support and oversight of the NRC. There are currently 39 agreement states.

There are four sites in the U.S. currently accepting low-level waste. All are located in Agreement States.

  • EnergySolutions Barnwell Operations, Barnwell, South Carolina
  • S. Ecology, Richland, Washington
  • EnergySolutions Clive Operations, Clive, Utah
  • Waste Control Specialists, Andrews, Texas

In 2020, over one million cubic feet of radioactive waste was disposed of in these four sites. Most of the material went to Clive, Utah, while the site with the highest radioactivity is in Andrews County, Texas.

Uranium Mining and Mill Tailings

A photo of yellow cake uranium, a solid form of uranium. Dec. 1, 2014. Source: Photo by Flickr user U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Courtesy of Energy Fuels Inc. Used under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

Uranium is the primary source of fuel for nuclear power generation and nuclear defense. Mining and the process of extracting uranium from the raw ore, called milling, produces radioactive waste. Material extracted from uranium mining sites can be dangerously radioactive, and, if not disposed of properly, the radioactive particles from mill waste may be blown by the wind to populated areas and contaminate water sources. Additionally, uranium decays to radium, which emits a harmful gas called radon. The Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 (Pub. L. 95-604, 92 Stat. 3021) added uranium mill tailings to the list of byproduct material regulated by the NRC.

Mill Tailings

In 1995, the NRC updated uranium mill licensing guidelines, expanding the type of material uranium mills could receive beyond ore obtained from uranium mining. An NRC regulatory issuing summary in 2000 (RIS 00-023) made these updated guidelines even more flexible.  A mill can apply for an amendment license to receive “alternate feed” in order to extract uranium from the feed and store the resulting waste in the mill’s impoundments – this feed can be anything from material resulting from rare earth extraction to waste from water treatment systems. The material received must be processed to produce uranium.

Once operations cease at a mill, the impoundments must be closed in a way that ensures the radioactivity level is controlled for at least 200 years, and there must be reasonable assurance that it can be controlled for 1,000 years. Alternatively, all waste must be removed from impoundments and the site decontaminated after closure. Today, most uranium mines and mills in the United States are decommissioned or undergoing decommissioning.

Uranium Mine Clean-Up Projects

The Navajo Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation Program closed portals like the one shown here at the Charles Keith mine. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

Home made from materials containing uranium. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,











Before 1978, much of the waste from mining was piled up outside of the mine shaft or even used as construction material. In mining towns such as Moab, UT and Grand Junction, CO, several structures were built using mine waste. Many of these abandoned uranium mines and contaminated structures are located on the Colorado Plateau in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico, as well as Wyoming.

Uranium Remembrance Day for the Spill at the UNC Mill. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

Since 2007, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has overseen a project cleaning up the 523 abandoned mines and numerous contaminated buildings in the Navajo Nation. The project is funded by enforcement agreements and settlements with parties responsible for the abandoned mines. As of 2018, 46 priority mines have been assessed and 1,100 homes have been screened for radiation and uranium contamination, as well as a number of informational materials created such as Gamma Goat in… The Dangers of Uranium! The contamination by abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land was recently added to the Administrator’s Emphasis List of Superfund Sites targeted for immediate, intense action.

In 2014, the DOE submitted a report to congress on Defense-Related Uranium Mines (DRUM). The report identified 4,225 abandoned mines that operated between 1947 and 1970 and sold uranium to the Atomic Energy Commission (the NRC’s predecessor). Some of these mines have contaminated groundwater and surrounding areas. Roughly 85% of the mines surveyed by the DOE have not been cleaned up or reclaimed.

Total defense-related uranium mines. Source: U.S. Department of Energy,

The DRUM project continues with the purpose of working with other agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, and Environmental Protection Agency, to mitigate the hazards abandoned mines pose to the public.

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Congressional Reactions to the Assassination of President Kennedy in the Bound Congressional Record

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 11/28/2022 - 10:00am

On November 22, 1963, President John Kennedy was felled by Lee Harvey Oswald as his motorcade drove through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas. Most Americans who were alive during that time still remember exactly where they were when they learned of this tragic event. Since the 59th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death just occurred, I decided to try to locate the first congressional reactions to the assassination in the Congressional Record. Since I knew the date, I decided to browse the Congressional Record by date rather than perform a keyword search. From the homepage, I clicked on “Congressional Record” at the top. Under “find an issue of the record,” I used the calendar to choose November 22, 1963. I took a look at the Daily Digest, a section of the Congressional Record that provides a summary of the daily proceedings, but did not find much that was relevant. However, when I took a look at the Daily Digest for November 25, 1963, which was the Monday following the assassination, I found these tributes to President Kennedy from Senators Mansfield and Dirksen.

A detail from page 22699 from the November 25th, 1963 Bound Congressional Record.

If you are interested in starting your search with a keyword, as opposed to a date, here is how you can search for and find congressional reactions to historic moments in American history. From the global search box drop-down menu, choose “Congressional Record.” Enter your search terms. You can put the terms in quotation marks to search for them as an exact phrase. On the results screen, click “show keywords in context” at the top left, so you can see snippets of where your search terms appear underneath each result. This will spare you the time of clicking on each individual result. You may also want to use the sort feature at the top to sort by date or the filter menu on the left to narrow down your results to a particular Congress.

The Bound Congressional Record on now provides coverage dating back to the 52nd Congress (1891 – 1893). Have you found any interesting congressional reactions to significant moments in American history? Let us know in the comments.

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

The (Legal) History of the Gränna Polkagris (Candy Stick)

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 11/25/2022 - 9:30am

Statute of Amalia Eriksson, Gränna, Sweden. Photo by author Elin Hofverberg. August 2022.

Today, November 25, marks the birthday of Amalia Eriksson (1824-1923), the creator of the Gränna polkagris. This year, her sweet peppermint candy stick (think a straight candy cane but slightly softer) earned protection as a registered  protected geographical indications (PGI) product under the European Union (EU) geographical indications legislation.

This means that only polkagrisar made in Gränna, Sweden, may use the name “Äkta Gränna Polkagrisar” (the Real Gränna Polkagris). The candy may not be as fancy as Champagne or as fought over as Feta cheese but for anyone who has driven down mainstreet (Brahegatan) in Gränna which is home to shops upon shop, all selling and baking polkagrisar, it is easy to conclude that the locals consider this a huge win.

If you don’t have a sweet tooth, you might still have heard of Gränna, it is the birthplace of balloonist Salomon August Andrée who died during an expedition to the North Pole.

Basket of polkagrisar, detail from Amalia Eriksson statute, Gränna, Sweden. Photo by author Elin Hofverberg. August 2022.

Background – Amalia Eriksson, Gränna, and the Polkagris

One does not give justice to the Gränna polkagris candy stick without also describing the plight of its creator Amalia Eriksson (nee Lundström). Born on November 25, 1824, in Jönköping, Sweden, Amelia was orphaned at a young age and worked as a domestic maid before marrying a local tailor, Anders Eriksson. However, the marriage was short-lived. In 1858, the year after their marriage, Amalia’s husband died just days after Amalia gave birth to twins, only one of whom survived the birth. Thus, Amalia was now the sole provider for herself and a one-week-old baby.

At this time, Swedish law did not generally allow women to own or operate a business. However, women could work with their hands in certain exceptional cases in accordance with a royal proclamation (Fabriks och handtwerks Ordning [Factory and Crafts Order](Svensk författningssamling (SFS) 1846:39) also known as Kongl. Handtverksordningen den 22 December 1846).

Fabriks och handtwerks Ordning [Factory and Crafts Order](Svensk författningssamling (SFS) 1846:39). Photo by author Elin Hofverberg.

Accordingly, in 1859, Amelia applied for and received her license, which specified that she could ”as means of livelihood with her own hands conduct bakery operations of coarse and fine pastries as well as to produce so called polkagrisar.”(Translation by author.)

Section 12 of the  Factory and Crafts Order of 1846 (SFS 1846:39). The legal basis upon which Amelia’s license rested. Photo by author Elin Hofverberg.

The name Polkagris is believed to originate from the swirling dance polka and from the word Gris (pig), which was slang for sweets at the time.

The polkagris recipe is straightforward and only includes sugar, water, glucose, vinegar, peppermint oil, and red caramel color.

The making of the polkagris is slightly more intricate however, as can be seen in this video.

Some claim that Amalia invented the candy to alleviate her daughter’s cough and that the original polkagris recipe did not include water or glucose.

After its launch, Amalia’s business became a quick success and earned her fame throughout Sweden. In 1915, Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf (later king of Sweden) visited her bakery together with his wife. Amalia Eriksson successfully exported her candy to a number of countries including the United States, a tradition that continues today.

Kongl. Maj:ts Nådiga Förordning angående utvidgad näringsfrihet (SFS) 1864:41. Photo by author Elin Hofverberg.

In 1864, a few years after Amalia started her business, a royal proclamation was adopted. In the 1864 proclamation, the Swedish king granted expanded freedom of trade (Kongl. Maj:ts Nådiga Förordning angaående utvidgad näringsfrihet, SFS 1864:41) proclaimed that:

A Swedish man or woman may, with the exceptions and restrictions and under the conditions otherwise specified below, in towns or in the countryside perform trade or factory, trade, or other business for the purpose of export or import, or between domestic locations, transport or transport by ship domestically as well as internationally. (Translation by author.)

Legal Protection of the Äkta Gränna Polkagris

Under Swedish law, the designation “Äkta Gränna polkagris” enjoys trademark protection. This term was originally registered as a trademark with the Swedish Intellectual Property Office (PRV) in 1948. It was then owned by the Gränna förening (Gränna association), and can now be used by member companies selling polkagrisar in Gränna. That is why you will find not one shop but an abundance of shops with both “the original” (Äkta Gränna Polkagris) flavor as well as their own specific and more novel flavors such as “trollgodis” (troll candy) along the main street of Gränna.

However, until this summer the Swedish candy was not specifically protected under EU geographical indicators.

Äkta Gränna Polkagrisar with the PGI EU label in blue and yellow. Photo by author Elin Hofverberg.

European Union Geographic Indicators

When referring to geographic indicators and many of us think of Champagne, the sparkling wine made in the region of Champagne, France. Only sparkling wine from this region may be called Champagne although arguably many of the properties of other sparkling wines are similar to that of Champagne. Although Champagne is protected under a different EU regulation (protected designation of origin) than Äkta Polkagrisar, the candy too now enjoys protections based on its geographical creation. Only polkagrisar made in the little town of Gränna (population 2,713) may state that they are Äkta Polkagrisar from Gränna. Thus, no matter if you use the exact same recipe that Amelia used in 1859, you are still not baking Äkta Gränna Polkagris, and you may not sell it as such unless it is made in one of the special shops (polkagriskokeri) in Gränna.

Geographical protection of foodstuff falls under Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs. Article 5.1 deals with “designation of origin” protection known as PDOs, whereas article 5.2 deals with “geographic indication” protection, known as PGIs. Äkta Gränna Polkagrisar are protected under article 5.2. The distinction between the products is that products protected under article 5.1 must meet the following requirements:

(a) originate in a specific place, region or, in exceptional cases, a country;
(b) their quality or characteristics are essentially or exclusively due to a particular geographical environment with its inherent natural and human factors; and
(c) the production steps all take place in the defined geographical area

Whereas products, like Gränna polkagrisar, which are not made by wholly Swedish ingredients (sugar may be from Denmark for example) must fulfill the requirements in article 5.2.:

(a) originate in a specific place, region or country;
(b) their given quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to their geographical origin; and
(c) at least one of the production steps takes place in the defined geographical area.

There is also a third category, geographical indications for spirits, known as GIs (like whiskey).

To receive protection under any of the three geographical protections, one must apply to register a name for protection. (Art. 40 Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012.) In the case of the Äkta Gränna Polkagris the application was made by Gränna Näringslivsförening, Polkagrisgruppen (the Polkagris group) and supported by Sweden. The application was then reviewed by the Commission and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. (Art. 50 (2).)

Thus, the Äkta Gränna Polkagris is now one of only 12 Swedish products that enjoys EU geographic protection. Of these, four enjoy “designation of origin” protection under article 5.1. , whereas eight enjoy “geographical indication protection” protections under article 5.2.

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Fall Remote Metadata Program: West Coast Team

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 11/23/2022 - 4:49pm

Concluding our introductions of the fall remote metadata program, we have the West Coast team. If you missed the foreign legal gazette program, east coast, or central team introductions, take a look!

Alyssa Key. Photo by Alyssa Key.

Our West Coast team is led by Alyssa Key. Alyssa may soon hold the record for the greatest number of semesters volunteering with the Law Library! This is her fifth remote internship with us, after serving as a remote intern in the spring and summer of 2021, a team lead with the American State Papers project earlier this year, and as a mentor this summer. Alyssa is a life-long California resident who graduated from San José State University’s M.L.I.S. program in May 2021, with an emphasis on public and academic librarianship. Alyssa also holds a B.A. in sociology from California State University, Northridge. In addition to her work here, Alyssa is also currently contributing to the American Library Association Subject Analysis Committee’s Working Group on External Review of LC Vocabularies.

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on?

It is so hard to pick a favorite. During my time on the Statutes at Large, American State Papers, and bill summaries metadata projects, I have learned a lot about how historical documents can be made more accessible for the public’s benefit simply through creating metadata. In turn, this is something I have grown passionate about because I have enjoyed seeing how increasing the accessibility of resources helps make information retrieval, and access standards and methods more equitable and inclusive.

Why do you keep coming back to the Library of Congress?

I started my journey with the Library as a Statutes at Large metadata project intern in the spring of 2021 while finishing my master of library and information science (M.L.I.S) degree at San José State University. So, now to be serving in my second team lead position with the bill summaries metadata project and to have almost five full internships completed with the Library, I can genuinely say I have really enjoyed working with my fellow interns and my supervisor, Jennifer González. In turn, it’s been an easy decision for me to continue volunteering my time to the projects I have been privileged to work on so far.

What is the coolest thing you’ve come across while working with us?

It is hard to choose because all of the digitized historical documents I have handled as part of the Statutes at Large, American State Papers, and bill summaries metadata projects have been really interesting to view. They have given me more perspective on congressional and governmental history that I did not have. So, now to have hands-on experience handling digitized historical documents that detail congressional and governmental history is a real privilege.

What are you hoping to do in the library field?

This is a really big question I have been pondering for a long time! Having spent roughly half of my M.L.I.S degree seeing how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the field in real time, I have grown passionate about increasing the availability and accessibility of digital collections, services, and resources to patrons, as well as addressing the digital divide impacting the ability of some patrons to access such library offerings on- and off-site. I am also passionate about information and media literacy, technology, and teaching patrons advanced online research strategies and techniques. Thus, I see myself in library roles that not only connect to a lot of my current professional interests, but also utilize many, if not all, of the skills I have cultivated through my library internships and other professional experiences so far.

Why libraries?

Admittedly, when I first joined the library and information science field, I was inspired because I was an avid reader growing up and love reading books and learning, and wanted to share that passion with others as others had done for me as a child. However, as I have gained more field experience, I have found myself incorporating much of what I learned as an undergraduate sociology student into my work. I am passionate about social justice and human rights, and believe everyone should have easy access to credible information, issues which I first explored as a remote student intern with San Francisco Public Library’s Jail and Reentry Services Reference by Mail program in the fall of 2020. I hope to further cultivate those passions, as well in my professional career going forward.

Now meet the team!

Tamah Bartlett. Photo by Kathy Bartlett.


Tamah Bartlett currently lives in Arizona and will complete her M.L.I.S at the University of Arizona (U.A.) in fall 2022 with the goal of entering the archival field. She holds a B.F.A in digital arts from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and a graduate certificate in archival studies from U.A. Tamah is the marketing officer of the U.A.’s American Library Association student chapter and interns at the U.A. Law Library working on the Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources Library Preservation Project. When not working, she enjoys creating art, researching her family history, and pet sitting.

Leigh Carroll. Photo by Leigh Carroll.


Leigh Carroll holds a bachelor’s degree in English from UC Berkeley and is finishing her M.L.I.S. degree from San José State University. She lives in the Bay Area with her partner and two young kids where she is a volunteer school librarian. She loves libraries of all kinds and working with historical documents. After a career in digital content strategy for companies of all types, she is eager to apply her skills to a cultural heritage institution where she can combine her loves of history and information organization.

Joanna Coelho. Photo by Natalie Baldini.


Joanna Coelho is a master of management in library and information science  (M.M.L.I.S.) student at the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business. Before pivoting to the world of libraries, she received her B.A. in English at UCLA and worked in book publishing and film production. In addition to her metadata work with the Law Library of Congress, she is also working as a digital asset management intern at USC Gould School of Law.

Emma’s cats, Willow (brown and white tabby) and Pumpkin (torti). Photo by Emma Cogan.


Emma Cogan is from Los Angeles, but has lived in Wisconsin and Denver. She is a current M.L.I.S graduate student at the University of Denver where she is focusing on archival practices. She has professional interests in digitization, metadata, cataloging, and digital asset management. Emma has two cats and enjoys gardening and bouldering (free rock climbing).

Margaret Daab. Photo by Margaret Daab.


Margaret Daab was born and raised in northeast Illinois but has recently moved to Washington State. In 2014, she received her bachelor’s degree in television writing from Columbia College Chicago. After an unexpected move into the public library field, she enrolled in the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s online M.L.I.S. program. When she is not studying, Margaret loves hiking, drawing, and binge-watching her favorite shows. She is excited to continue her work in library programming and to gain new skills as she completes her education.

Danielle Dantema. Photo by Shannon Keith.


Danielle Dantema is a California native residing in sunny Orange County. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in English from University of California, Los Angeles, and her M.L.I.S. degree from San José State University. While she currently volunteers in public libraries, she hopes to become a video game archivist and librarian. When she is not busy guiding people on how to fulfill their knowledge quest, archiving important documents, and organizing information from around the world, she enjoys letting her creativity flourish in planning themed parties, pottery, and watercolor painting.

Brenda Esparza, Photo by B. Hollingshead


Brenda Esparza is a graduate student completing her M.L.I.S degree from the University of Arizona. Interning remotely from Phoenix, Arizona, she is interested in metadata management, digitization and digital preservation, and contributing to the development of accessible and discoverable digital projects. In addition to her work with the Law Library of Congress, she works as an outreach specialist for her public library to implement long-term and sustainable early literacy activities in hard-to-reach communities. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, watching British Bake-Off, and playing board games.

Eun Hye Jun. Photo by Trinity Yun.


Eun Hye Jun double majored and earned two bachelor’s degrees in education and sociology from Korea University in Seoul, Korea. She taught social studies in high school for about ten years. She finished her master of science in library science (M.S.L.S.) program from Clarion University of Pennsylvania last spring. Eun Hye is currently participating in the research group of the library and information science department at Clarion University and working with several professors. Her professional interests include information literacy in childhood, digital youth, and the information seeking behavior of teens.

Cashel McGloin. Photo by Cashel McGloin.


Cashel McGloin is long past her intern days, but volunteers for the Library of Congress out of her love for the institution.  She uses her degrees in archaeology as a volunteer archaeologist for a number of organizations around the greater D.C. area, and her experience from growing up in Colorado to rebuild trails in national parks.  When not being paid by museums to handle their collections, she explores, dances, draws, does beadwork, restores antiques, and conducts historic site research.

Hayley Park. Photo by Hayley Park.


Hayley Park (she/they) is finishing her M.L.I.S degree at the University of Washington with an emphasis in digital scholarship, data curation, and knowledge organization. Her academic background is in comparative literature with an emphasis in film studies. Her professional experience primarily comes from working at public and institutional libraries and working at an academic library as a graduate specialist. As an American Library Association Spectrum Scholar, she is drawn to ideas and practices that challenge cultural hegemony and structural inequities and is committed to ensuring equitable access for all people to pursue knowledge essential to each of their sensemaking journey(s).

Belinda Reich. Photo by Belinda Reich.

Belinda Reich is originally from Australia, but has lived in South Korea, Canada, and currently in Los Angeles, U.S. She recently graduated with a master of information studies from Charles Sturt University, with a focus on audiovisual and digital archiving and preservation, data management, and metadata. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in visual arts (electronic and temporal art) from the University of Sydney. This year, she provided metadata description for a newly digitized audiovisual collection at the Australian Museum, and governance research for a government records office in Australia. Her previous professional experience includes film and digital development, and communications. When not looking at a screen, Belinda loves exploring Southern California for its diverse food, neighborhoods, and history, and swimming in the ocean.

Robert Rosas. Photo by Robert Rosas.

Robert Rosas is a Southern California native currently pursuing his M.M.L.I.S. from the University of Southern California. He holds a B.A. in political science from UC Irvine. When not focusing on his studies or working at the UC Irvine Law Library, he enjoys cooking, hitting the gym, and exploring southern California with his corgi, Archie.

Laura Wertz. Photo by Christine Wertz.

Laura Wertz is a lifelong resident of Walnut Creek, California. She is currently working as a remote metadata intern at the Law Library of Congress. Laura earned her master’s degree in library and information science from San José State University (S.J.S.U.) in May of 2021 with a focus on academic librarianship. Her research paper on the fight to desegregate southern U.S. public libraries during the civil rights movement was published in the S.J.S.U. School of Information Student Research Journal. She previously interned as a virtual collection development associate for the Open Access Digital Theological Library. Laura is pursuing a career in academic librarianship. She enjoys spending time with her dog, music, the arts, reading, and is a digital art enthusiast.

Keri Wilkins. Photo by Keri Wilkins.

Keri Wilkins is an Arkansas native, but is currently living in San Diego, California. She is about to graduate with her M.L.I.S. from San José State University in December 2022. She also holds a paralegal certificate from the University of San Diego and a B.S. in psychology from Arkansas State University. Keri has two fur babies and has a huge love for animals. She currently enjoys working in the cataloging world of librarianship. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, volunteering at animal rescues, and swimming.


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Categories: Research & Litigation

Fall Remote Metadata Program: Central Team

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 11/22/2022 - 9:54am

Continuing with our mini-series on the fall remote metadata program, we have the team geographically located between the two coasts.

Katie Colson. Photo by Holly Peterson.

Our central team is led by Katie Colson, a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and working towards a master’s of science in library and information science degree. She is originally from northern Idaho and began her career in libraries working at the Boundary County Public Library during high school. She was working as a cataloger at the rare book and manuscript library on campus while in school. Last summer, she was part of the Junior Fellows program, and we are glad to have her back as a team lead for the fall!

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on?

It is impossible to pick a favorite of the projects I have worked on for the Law Library of Congress! Both my projects thus far have allowed me to support accessibility to resources, which is central to what I want to add to the library field. Working as a junior fellow this summer, I was able to improve the accessibility of the blog’s resources by adding alt text to images and creating guidelines for adding alt text. This fall, as a remote metadata intern, I get to create metadata for bill summaries that will allow for discovery and exploration of this amazing resource. What could be better?

Why do you keep coming back to the Library of Congress?

I keep coming back to the Library of Congress because, first of all, the people who work here are awesome! In addition I keep working for the Library of Congress because I get to be part of a library that is a leader in the field, and has helped create the standards and best practices I interact with every day. I am also able to support the library that works closely with the government that runs my country, and I feel honored to be part of that. I want to be a part of the future of libraries and working for the Library of Congress feels like a huge step in that direction!

What is the coolest thing you’ve come across while working with us?

There has really not been just one cool thing, but many! Everything I have worked with, from blog posts to bill summaries, has shown me new information about history, our government, and the world we live in! It has been amazing in particular working with the bill summaries and seeing all the work that goes into developing the laws and policies that govern the country.

What are you hoping to do in the library field?

I want to work in supporting information access, and I want to make sure libraries are able to take advantage of the interconnectedness of the digital age. I see that happening through metadata, and I want to create guidelines and explore new areas of application for metadata and allow new, unexpected connections to be made. I envision an interconnected library with the ability to connect patrons easily to diverse, in-depth, multi-perspective, and accurate resources.

Why libraries?

As a voracious reader, libraries have always been an important part of my life, but I first saw my future career in them while working in the library at my undergraduate school, the University of Idaho. I was able to help students find the resources they were looking for and be a part of an entity whose entire goal was information access and fostering connections. I loved diving into new topics with every patron and exploring a wide variety of topics every day. I found my future and I have been pursuing that future and finding my exact niche in this field ever since.

And now, the team!

William Blackerby. Photo by Quez Shipman.

William Blackerby is proud to call Birmingham, Alabama home. A graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South with a B.A. in classical languages, he is in his seventh year teaching Latin and Greek at Indian Springs School just outside Birmingham. He is a second year M.L.I.S. student at the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama. Outside of work and school, he enjoys playing old time fiddle and spending time with his wife and dog. William hopes to use the skills gained during his master’s program to help libraries and nonprofits find technological solutions to information management problems.

Katie Harper. Photo by Katie Harper.



Katie Harper (she/her/hers) is an Ohio native who holds an M.L.S. degree with a focus in health information from the University of Kentucky and a B.S. in elementary education from the University of Louisville. She currently works for her local public library as a full-time clerk. Before that, she worked at an academic library as a research and instruction assistant, as well as a stack maintenance assistant. In the future, Katie hopes to work in the health information field as a medical librarian.

Renée LaCapria-Harper. Photo by Renée LaCapria-Harper.

Renée LaCapria-Harper is currently pursuing a master’s degree in archiving and records administration from San José State University and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Wilmington University.  From previous studies, she holds an M.I.S. from University of Phoenix; an M.L.I.S. from San José State University; and a B.A. in communication studies (concentration in rhetoric and argumentation) from California State University, San Bernardino.  She is a technical project manager with dreams of joining others who work diligently to archive the many stories that history produces.  When the workday ends and between university studies, Renée enjoys reading, building websites, and expanding her knowledge in technology, archiving, and digital art.

Sami Luke. Photo by Austin DeRaedt.


Sami Luke is a current graduate student at Wayne State University where she is studying for a master’s degree in library and information science with a specialization in library services such as library systems and infrastructure. Sami went to Michigan State University (M.S.U.) for a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in women’s and gender studies. While working as a remote metadata intern for the Law Library, Sami also works at the M.S.U. library in the reference and discovery services department. In the future she hopes to continue working with metadata and/or venture into the world of cataloging. 

Sam Mays. Photo by Sam Mays.


Sam Mays lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is currently finishing his M.L.I.S. through Kent State University. In addition to this internship, he is a volunteer at Cincinnati History Library and Archives. When not reading or researching, he loves running, watching documentaries, and cooking.

Andrew Reiter. Photo by Andrew Reiter.



Andrew Reiter is a Michigan native currently based in Austin, Texas, where he is in his final year as a master’s student in the school of information at the University of Texas. Andrew is interested in digital libraries, metadata, and the digital humanities and hopes to work at a university or in the government after graduation. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, reading, and being outdoors as much as the Texas heat allows.

Nancy Sprouse. Photo by Nancy Sprouse.

Nancy Sprouse is a recent M.L.I.S. graduate from Texas Woman’s University, and current resident of San Antonio, Texas. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M University, and a master’s in biology from the University of the Incarnate Word. She has actively worked in information technology for the past seven years and joins this season’s remote internship to diversify her current skills with metadata experience. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her dogs, cats, and chinchilla, as well as gardening. She currently hopes to obtain a future position that will allow her to utilize her diverse skill sets and plans on continuing her education in the near future to include a Ph.D. in library and information science.

Margaret Stephens. Photo by Margaret Stephens.


Margaret Stephens lives in Chicago, Illinois. She holds a bachelor of science degree in healthcare leadership from National-Louis University. She is completing her coursework for an M.S.L.I.S. at Chicago State University. She enjoys Chicago’s fireworks and the Shoreline Skyline Lake Tours at Navy Pier.

Stacey Weldon. Photo by Stacey Weldon.


Stacey Weldon is currently studying information communication technology at the University of Kentucky. Her current internship at the Law Library of Congress has allowed her to pursue knowledge of metadata related to Congress Research Service bill summaries. She is interested in the topics of finance, data management, and metadata.

Julia Zamarripa. Photo by Nikki Dodge.



Julia Zamarripa is from Houston, Texas, and is currently an M.L.S. student at Texas Woman’s University. She received her B.B.A. in finance from Texas State University. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and baking.


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Categories: Research & Litigation

Fall Remote Metadata Program: East Coast Team

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 10:11am

This fall, we have two remote programs happening with our interns and volunteers. We introduced you to our foreign legal gazette program participants last month, and during the next three days, we will introduce you to our interns and volunteers working with Congressional Research Service bill summaries in our remote metadata program. This program is a continuation of last spring’s successful project.

Danielle Pytko. Photo by Pauline Pytko.

To organize our work, we have three teams divided geographically across the country, each with a team lead. Our first group is the team on the East Coast, led by Danielle Pytko. This is Danielle’s third semester working with us and her first as a team lead. Danielle is a graduate of the library and information science program at Simmons University. She has worked in public and academic libraries and has a B.A. in English from Mount Holyoke College.

What is your favorite project you’ve worked on?

I’ve participated in two Law Library of Congress internship programs—the creative digital projects program and the metadata program—and greatly enjoyed my experiences in each of them. They also pair very well together. I experienced digital archives from two different points of view: a patron’s point of view while researching for a blog post in the creative digital projects program and from a an archivist’s point of view as a metadata intern and from a professional point of view while working as a metadata intern. This experience gave me a valuable perspective on how researchers’ needs guide the work of library employees.

Why do you keep coming back to the Library of Congress?

I am in awe of all of the history that the Library contains and the work that goes into preserving that history and making it accessible to the public. I am eager to use my skills to contribute to that work.

What is the coolest thing you’ve come across while working with us?

In my first semester as a metadata intern, I worked on summaries of bills introduced in the House of Representatives in 1969. The variety of topics that the bill summaries addressed was interesting—everything from the military draft to bees—and a great insight into that time in history.

What are you hoping to do in the library field?

I am excited about the possibilities of digital platforms for the discoverability, accessibility, and preservation of library materials. I would be especially interested in working as a product manager or in a product owner role where I could contribute to the ideation, development, and implementation of new features for a library’s digital products and services. I also enjoy storytelling and would be interested in a marketing role where I can communicate the benefits of library resources, services, and events to the public.

Why libraries?

Libraries contain many resources white document history. I enjoy working to make those resources more accessible for everyone.

And now, meet the team!

Matt Burke. Photo by Matt Burke.

Matt Burke is a New York native who holds an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree  from Suffolk Community College, a B.A. degree in history from Stony Brook University, and is currently in pursuit of an M.L.I.S. at the University at Buffalo. Matt has always had a passion for learning history, as well as for politics, and hopes to pursue a career handling collections and archives at the Library of Congress or National Archives. His interests include reading, watching sports, and spending time with family.

Diana Ferguson. Photo by Diana Ferguson.

Diana Ferguson is currently working towards a master of science in information degree at Florida State University. She holds an M.B.A. from Texas A&M International University and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Central Florida. Diana is also certified as a ballet barre fitness instructor. “Solar powered,” she loves living in Florida with her amazing husband and son, and cheering on her favorite hockey team. She loves learning the ways technology can be implemented to solve problems by radically improving processes and making the impossible possible. Working as an intern with the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, Diana helped direct FEMA to the most up-to-date information on cultural heritage institutions in the event of a disaster. She loves working with metadata, and in that context, has contributed work to some of our nation’s oldest laws in the Statutes at Large, the American State Papers, and congressional bill summaries for the Law Library of Congress.

Bethany Greenho. Photo by Lori Greenho.

Bethany Greenho is currently pursuing a master’s degree in library and information science with a focus on archives at the University of Maryland. Her interests include arts archives, accessibility, and primary source literacy. In her free time, Bethany enjoys visiting museums, attending the theater, and learning new craft skills.

Taylor Hiltz. Photo by Taylor Hiltz.

Taylor Hiltz will be graduating with an M.L.I.S. degree from the University of Denver in November 2022. She also holds a B.S. in criminal justice from Virginia Commonwealth University and has worked in law enforcement and public and academic libraries. Although she has spent much of her life in Virginia, Taylor’s family has lived in Idaho for generations, she calls “home.” Taylor has two dogs, and in her spare time she loves to read, learn new skills, complete home improvement projects, kayak, and travel. She is passionate about metadata, digital literacy, and digital asset management.

Ashley Jones. Photo by Ashley Jones.

Ashley Jones is a Brooklyn native who holds a B.A. degree from SUNY Albany, where she double majored in political science and criminal justice, with a minor in Africana studies. She is an aspiring archivist, passionate about documenting public memory through photography and oral history. In the future, after attaining an M.L.I.S., she hopes to work with ethnographic archives. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her cats, studying herbalism, and collaging.

Jacob Neal. Photo by Carolyn Neal.

Jacob Neal is a native of Florida and is currently a graduate student at the University of Missouri, completing a M.L.I.S. degree with an archival emphasis. He has a B.A. degree in history from the University of Florida. In his spare time, he enjoys reading presidential biographies, traveling to presidential libraries and historic sites, and attending various sporting events.

Lily Nisbet. Photo by Lily Nisbet.

Lily Nisbet grew up and attended school in Maryland and in Edinburgh, Scotland. She is a recent graduate of Elizabethtown College with a degree in philosophy with a focus in the humanities. When not working, Lily enjoys Irish step dancing and reading. She currently resides in Maryland with her rescue golden retriever who believes he is the size of a chihuahua.

Kaci Pelias. Photo by Kaci Pelias.

Kaci Pelias currently dwells in Central Florida, but her heart lives in Texas. She has a B.A. in playwriting and a minor in arts administration from the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently pursuing an M.L.I.S. from the University of South Florida. She spends a lot of time at theme parks and enjoys reading, cross-stitching, and drinking coffee. Kaci loves working with children, advocating against book censorship, and learning more about metadata.

Cait Ross. Photo by Petar Kovacevic.

Cait Ross is wrapping up her final year of her M.L.I.S. studies at Simmons University. She holds an undergraduate degree in English literature from the University of Edinburgh. When not on duty as a law library assistant, she can be found drinking coffee with her husband, practicing Serbian, or doodling in her planner. She aims to pursue a career in academic and/or special libraries.

Becky Zarrella. Photo by Becky Zarrella.

Rebecca (Becky) Zarrella is entering her final year of the M.L.I.S. program at the University of Maryland. Her academic interests include open data, digital access and literacy, ethics in artificial intelligence, and the use of assistive technology and universal design to promote information equity. She loves talking accessibility, algorithms, and automation. Becky lives near Baltimore with her husband and their two perfect dogs. In her free time she likes to read, write, play piano, garden, and paint.



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Categories: Research & Litigation

Law Library’s New Report Reviews National Laws Regulating Net Zero Emissions

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 1:00pm

The following is a guest post by Peter Roudik, the assistant law librarian for legal research at the Law Library of Congress and the director of the Law Library’s Global Legal Research Directorate.

Currently meeting in Egypt, the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27, is discussing how to address climate change and mitigate its consequences. One of the actions highlighted by the conference is the Race to Zero global campaign aimed at promoting varied net-zero carbon emission initiatives. The United Nations describes net zero as an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions as close to zero as possible. Many countries made a commitment to achieve this goal by the year 2050 or even earlier. In a recent study, the Law Library of Congress researched which countries have enacted or proposed net zero emissions legislation, what are the legislatively established target dates, and how the legislation changed during the last year.

Title page of the Law Library’s report “Net Zero Emissions Legislation Around the World: 2022 Update”

Our research identified 57 jurisdictions around the world with climate neutrality goals stated by national laws. These include the European Union (EU) and its 27 member states, where a June 2021 regulation sets 2050 as the target date for climate neutrality. Eleven EU member states have passed their own legislation in addition to the directly applicable regulation. Four jurisdictions have set an earlier target date of 2045. Germany and Scotland plan to achieve full climate neutrality by that date, while the laws of Gibraltar and Sweden provide for a significant reduction (85 to 100 percent) of carbon emissions from the 1990 baseline. Even a more ambitious goal is stated in the Climate Emergency Act of Maldives. This law of 2021 requires the country to have net zero emissions by 2030. The United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Russia enacted laws at the national and state levels introducing regional goals for reaching carbon neutrality.

The report is part of the Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress) collection which contains to date more than 3,000 reports, current and historical, authored by the Law Library of Congress specialists and analysts on a variety of legal topics.

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Chief Sealth’s Grave – Pic of the Week

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 11/18/2022 - 7:00am

On a trip to Washington state earlier this fall, I visited Chief Sealth’s (c.1780-1866) final resting place on the Kitsap Peninsula. Chief Sealth (also referred to as Si’ahl or Seattle) was a Suquamish and Duwamish leader who is the namesake for the city of Seattle. Although he inherited the position of Chief of the Duwamish Tribe, a council of six tribes eventually selected him to be the leader of a tribal confederation in central Puget Sound. In this role, Chief Sealth maintained friendly relations with European-American immigrants that his father began in 1792. His diplomacy and friendship eventually led to the Treaty of Point Elliott, which was signed by the United States and several tribes in 1855; the treaty was ratified in 1859.

Chief Sealth’s grave. Photo by Anna Price.

Under the treaty, the tribes agreed to cede their lands to the United States (art. 1), although they retained specific tracts that would become reservations (arts. 2-4) and maintained the right to fish at “usual and accustomed grounds” (art. 5). The article related to fishing rights was a common provision in treaties between the government and American Indian tribes in the Puget Sound region, and became a focal point in United States v. Washington (the Boldt decision), a seminal court case in the field of American Indian law.

Chief Sealth’s grave. Photo by Colin Lavassar.

Words attributed to a speech Chief Sealth gave in 1854 are carved in English and Lushootseed into a concrete ring around the gravesite. “Even the rocks thrill with memories of past events. The very dust beneath your feet responds more lovingly to our footsteps, because it is the ashes of our ancestors. The soil is rich with the life of our kindred.”

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we recommend visiting the resources below.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Hank Adams, Activist and Indigenous Law Expert, 1943-2020

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 11/17/2022 - 1:03pm

November is Native American Heritage Month, when we recognize and celebrate the first peoples of this continent and their science, art, accomplishments and traditional knowledge. The Law Library collects primary source law, codes, and regulations of sovereign Indigenous nations and tribes, and commentary on Indigenous law as well. We recognize the importance of Indigenous law throughout the year, and especially in November.

An important figure in Indigenous law is Henry Lyle “Hank” Adams, who was recently mentioned in our Fish Wars post. Vine Deloria, Jr. called him the “most important Native American in the country.” While Adams was not a lawyer, he was an activist who organized groups and activities to promote Indigenous rights. His knowledge of Indigenous law was so deep that he was often assumed to be an attorney (Heffernan, 5). He used his legal knowledge and tactical skills as part of his activism.

Hank Adams, an Assiniboine-Sioux born on the Fort Peck Reservation, was raised in Taholah, Washington. He was a star student in high school and attended the University of Washington for two years, but left when John F. Kennedy died and started his activist work on Frank’s Landing in the Fish Wars. He was arrested multiple times at fish-ins and was shot once during the protests. He invited Marlon Brando to come out to Frank’s Landing to participate in “fish- ins”, worked with filmmakers to create three documentaries, and organized demonstrations (Wilkinson, 45). Adams approached Ralph Johnson, a University of Washington law professor, in 1966 to create an Indian law course at the law school (Wilkinson, 46). At the time, no law school offered American Indian law courses in the U.S. When the crucial Fish Wars case, United States v. Washington, came to trial in 1974, Adams represented tribal fishers. Vine Deloria wrote that, “When Hank came into the fishing rights struggle, the Indians were disheartened, disorganized and certainly demoralized…. In the decade in which he has been active, the situation has completely reversed.”

[Tipi with sign “American Indian Movement” on the grounds of the Washington Monument, Washington, D.C., during the “Longest walk”, 11 July 1978] Leffler, Warren K. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

Adams worked with fellow organizers in the planning of the protest march, the Trail of Broken Treaties. He later worked with the federal government for the resolution of the occupation protestors at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and their safe return home (Heffernan, 16). As the protest was making its way toward D.C. and made a stop in Minnesota, Hank Adams wrote the “20 Points”. This document summarizes Indigenous needs, a history of their treaty rights, and includes a call for new treaties with the Federal government. He’s seldom credited as the author. Scholars and advocates consider the 20 Points paper an important and influential document in the history of Indigenous treaty rights and tribal-U.S. relations.

Adams later said that the “dismissal of the 20 Points helped provoke the takeover for which [American Indian Movement (AIM)] is best known, the siege of Wounded Knee” (Heffernan, 18). At Wounded Knee, Adams would again work to resolve the conflict with the federal government and having the needs of the protestors and the Indigenous peoples heard. In the 1980s, he worked with the Miskito People in Nicaragua to achieve self-determination. He also continued his advocacy work with the Northwest Treaty Tribes.

Throughout his life, Adams worked to advance the rights of Indigenous peoples and to educate Indigenous youth to know and advocate for their treaty rights and their communities. He said, “There are a lot of things beyond your control, but you do what little you can with the little time that you have.” He worked to get his community’s needs heard and he made significant achievements toward that goal. As the Northwest Treaty Tribes noted when he died, he was “an indispensable leader, and essential follower and a brilliant strategist, he shaped more Native American civil, human and treaty rights policies than most people even know are important or why.”


E90.A26 H36 2011  The Hank Adams reader: an exemplary Native activist and the unleashing of Indigenous sovereignty / edited by David E. Wilkins.

E99.N74 W55 2000 Wilkinson, Charles F. Messages from Frank’s Landing : a story of salmon, treaties, and the Indian way / by Charles Wilkinson ; photo essay by Hank Adams ; maps by Diane Sylvain.

KF27 .I527 1972a United States. Congress. House. Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. Subcommittee on Indian Affairs. Seizure of Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters. Hearings, Ninety-second Congress, second session … December 4 and 5, 1972. (Note: see page 162 for the Twenty Points)

Heffernan, Trova. “Hank Adams: An Uncommon Life.” Hank Adams—Who Are We? Legacy Washington, WA Secretary of State, 2016. Accessed 10 November 2022.

 Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

New Law Library Report Examines Mass Timber Construction in Selected Countries

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 11/17/2022 - 9:00am

The following is a guest post by Michael Chalupovitsch, a foreign law specialist at the Law Library of Congress covering Canada and Caribbean jurisdictions.

A recently published Law Library of Congress report, Mass Timber Construction, examines the use of mass timber, also known as cross-laminated timber, in the construction of buildings in ten countries. According to Natural Resources Canada, mass timber is “a transformative technology made by affixing or gluing together many pieces of wood veneers, flakes or dimension lumber to form larger, stronger pieces such as panels and beams.”

The report consists of a comparative summary followed by individual country surveys for ten countries. The countries surveyed are Australia, Austria, Canada, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Title page of the Law Library’s report “Mass Timber Construction”

The surveys revealed different approaches taken when regulating the use of wood in general and mass timber in particular in the construction of buildings. Some countries such as Austria, Japan, and Switzerland have legislation promoting the use of wood in new construction. The Canadian province of British Columbia has a law promoting the use of wood in government buildings, while the federal parliament is considering similar legislation. Australia, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom all have policies recognizing the use of wood as part of clean growth plans. Italy, on the other hand, discourages the use of wood in tall buildings due to seismic conditions. With respect to the use of mass timber in tall building construction, most countries’ requirements are contained in local or national building codes, while European Union (EU) member-states must additionally comply with EU legislative directives.

Country surveys contain multiple references and links to legal and non-legal sources of information in English as well as in relevant vernacular languages on the subjects discussed.

The report is part of the Legal Reports (Publications of the Law Library of Congress) collection which contains to date more than 3,000 reports, current and historical, authored by the Law Library of Congress specialists and analysts on a variety of legal topics.

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Legal Research Reports: Economic Espionage Laws

Law Library of Congress: Research Reports - Wed, 11/16/2022 - 10:35am

The Law Library of Congress is proud to present the report, Economic Espionage Laws

This report addresses economic espionage laws and the regulation of fraudulent filing of corporate, import-export, and banking documentation. In addition to describing relevant legislation, the report provides examples of convictions and law enforcement activities regarding economic espionage and the violation of export control requirements from the past five years. In addition to this summary, the report consists of individual country surveys for the following countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Peru, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Uzbekistan. (July 2022)

Categories: Research & Litigation

Join Us for Human Rights Day 2022: The 1300 Magna Carta and The Charter of the Forest – Revealing the Past

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 11/16/2022 - 8:30am

Join the Law Library of Congress online on December 8, 2022 at 3p.m. EST  for our annual Human Rights Day event. Please register here.

Human Rights Day 2022. Graphic by Kelly Goles.

Human Rights Day was established to commemorate the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. This event will feature a panel discussion concerning two foundational legal documents, Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest. Magna Carta was issued in June 1215, the first document to put into writing the principles that the king and the government was not above the law. Magna Carta was intended to prevent the king from exploiting regal powers, and placed limits on royal authority by making the king accountable to his barons and established law. The Sandwich Magna Carta was discovered in 2015, 800 years later, in a Victorian scrapbook along with an original Charter of the Forest. The Forest Charter was issued in 1225 to complement Magna Carta and regulate the administration of large sections of the royal forests in England governed by royal decree rather than common law.

This panel, which includes Jacob Nadal, Dr. Fenella France, and Chris Woods, will discuss the history of the charters and what the heritage science analyses could reveal, centuries later.

The Preservation Research and Testing Division (PRTD) at the Library of Congress had the opportunity through a collaborative agreement, to explore and recover damaged original text and understand the background of these significant documents.


About the panelists

Chris Woods

Chris Woods. Photo courtesy of Chris Woods.







Chris Woods is an accredited conservator with over 30 years of experience working in the heritage sector. Chris’s former public sector roles have included head of Conservation & Collection Care at the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, and director of Collection & Programme Services for the Tate galleries. Mr. Woods has published, lectured, and taught in a range of specialist fields, notably building and storage environments, parchment manuscripts, archival seals and plastic photographic negatives. Mr. Woods founded National Conservation Service in 2009/10. Currently chairman of the British Standards Institution’s committee responsible for BS4971:2017 Conservation & Care of Archive and Library Collections (and formerly for BS5454, the 2009-12 review of which he led), Mr. Woods is also active in Europe, having led the work to develop EN 16893:2018 Specifications for Buildings, recently launched, and which replaces the now withdrawn BS5454. Mr. Woods advises Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals on the care of their 1215 Magna Cartas of King John and Hereford for its 1217 Magna Carta of Henry III.

Fenella G. France PhD MBA FAIC

Dr. Fenella G. France. Photo courtesy of Dr. France.







Fenella G. France, chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division, Library of Congress, is an international specialist on environmental deterioration to cultural objects. She has developed a research infrastructure that integrates heritage and scientific data and also focuses on data visualization. Her team is expanding the use of portable instrumentation and sample reference materials that support preservation of cultural heritage. Dr. France has worked on projects including World Trade Center Artifacts, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, Llullaillaco High Altitude Museum in Chile, and the 1507 Waldseemüller World Map. She collaborates extensively with academic, cultural, forensic and federal institutions and has taught courses in the U.S., London, New Zealand, Portugal and Latvia. She is currently principal investigator on an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded project to scientifically assess the condition of print materials in U.S. research libraries. Her other international collaborations include; Inks&Skins, University College Cork, Ireland, Collections Demography, SEAHA doctoral training, Beast2Craft Biocodicology project, and CHaNGE – Cultural Heritage Analysis for New Generations. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Library and Information Resources.

Jacob Nadal

Jacob Nadal. Photo by Shawn Miller.







Jacob Nadal is the director for Preservation at the Library of Congress. He was appointed to the position in July 2017 to manage the work of the Directorate’s four divisions — Collections Management, Conservation, Preservation Services, and Research and Testing — and provides leadership for the Library’s stewardship of the national collections. Before joining the Library of Congress, he served in leadership roles and developed preservation programs for the Research Collections and Preservation Consortium (ReCAP), Brooklyn Historical Society, UCLA, New York Public Library, and Indiana University, where he received his master’s degree in Library Science. His work has involved developing large-scale cooperative programs to share and preserve research materials, investigating business models and administrative frameworks for many aspects of preservation, organizing preservation efforts in the aftermath of natural disaster or armed conflict, and working in professional development and education for preservation.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

From Art to Invention – Exploring the Contributions of Samuel F. B. Morse

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 11/15/2022 - 11:47am

The following is a guest post by Alya J. Sarna, an intern with the Digital Resources Division of the Law Library of Congress. Alya has a master’s degree from Columbia University in sociology. She is fond of history and art and adores her Goldador, Fudge. 

Samuel F.B. Morse. 1872. Engraving from painting by Chappel. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. //

The trajectory of Samuel Finley Breese Morse’s life is one that displays his ingenuity which he expressed in a number of ways. His contributions to the world of art, for instance, showcased all that captivated his attention, which in turn captivated the eye of art aficionados. Yet the Charlestown, Massachusetts-born renaissance man wasn’t limited to the world of art. Instead, he sought to evolve beyond it, and his habit of tinkering as an engineer would ultimately lead him to invent the telegraph and the Morse code.

Morse’s Artistic Capabilities

Art always played a prominent role in Morse’s life, and he was known to enjoy painting during his free time while at Yale University where he studied philosophy and mathematics. He also attended lectures on electricity that were conducted by  professors Benjamin Silliman and Jeremiah Day. Upon graduating from Yale in 1810, his artistic capabilities caught the attention of the successful American painter, Washington Allston. Allston encouraged Morse to pursue his art and so, much to his parents’ chagrin, Morse set off to London, England, in 1811, where he studied at the Royal Academy of Arts. Here, he received several accolades including a gold medal for The Dying Hercules plaster statuette in 1812 along with receiving critical acclaim for the painting of the same that followed.



Art and Invention

Morse returned to the United States in 1815, and, in 1822, he invented a marble-cutting machine capable of carving three-dimensional sculptures in marble as well as stone. He was unable to patent this invention since it infringed upon a design set forth by Thomas Blanchard in 1820.

In 1823, he worked on a painting titled The House of Representatives, which featured the rotunda of the capitol in Washington, D.C., and the painting went on tour the following year. His artistic capabilities and interests led him to become the founder of the National Academy of Design in 1826, and its first president. This academy was created to mirror the Royal Academy of Arts Morse had attended and, in response to the more conservative American Academy of Fine Arts, to further contemporary art.

Gallery of the Louvre, 1831–33, Samuel F. B. Morse, American, 1791–1872, oil on canvas, 73 ¾ x 108 in. (187.3 x 274.3 cm) Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1992.51, Photography © Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago.

Morse was commissioned to paint a portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette in Washington, D.C in 1825. During his time away, he learned of his wife’s sudden death. However, this information took so long to reach him that by the time he returned home, she had already been buried. Disheartened by this delay, he sought to use his background to speed up communications.

In 1832, Morse first conceived of the idea of the electromagnetic telegraph and built upon the ideas of William Sturgeon, who was responsible for inventing the electromagnet in 1825. By 1837, he had created relays that would allow for a single electric circuit to open and close a switch on another electric circuit placed at a distance. This ultimately meant that these “relays” could be sent across ten miles of wire by November 1837.

Although the Englishmen William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatsone had patented a five-needle telegraph system, Morse’s telegraph was the first to rely on a single wire alone. In 1837, therefore, he filed a caveat for a patent for the telegraph with the support of Alfred Vail and Leonard Gale.

In 1838, he improved upon his invention by creating a dot and dash system, which would lead to the invention of the Morse Code. Morse was granted a patent for his telegraph in 1840. On May 24, 1844, Morse stood in the Supreme Court Chamber (then in the Capitol building) and, surrounded by congressmen, sent the first official telegraph.

Patents and Recognition

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “Statues” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed November 1, 2022.

In the 1854 case, O’Reilly et al. v. Morse et. al. (56 U.S. 62), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Morse’s patent claims for the telegraph over his former contractor. This resulted in his dominance of the American telegraph market and extensive royalties. During this time, his patent was also extended for a period of 7 years. Owing to the enormous help the telegraph provided to a number of European countries, ten of these countries chipped in and awarded him 400,000 French francs for his invention of the telegraph in 1858.

Ending On a High Note

The Western Union Telegraph Company was formed in 1856, and it completed the first transcontinental telegraph line to California in 1861. In 1871, a number of Western Union employees took it upon themselves to pay homage to Morse, who had paved the paths for their careers, and so they chose June 10 to be celebrated as “Samuel Morse Day.” Celebrations included a parade, along with a statue of Morse unveiled a few weeks prior in Central Park, New York City.

At a frail 80 years old, Morse didn’t partake in all the festivities, yet he did attend the reception held in his honor at the New York Academy of Music on the evening of June 10, 1871. By then, every city and town was a part of a telegraph network and, during this reception, Morse was asked to relay a message to the American public.

His telegraph readGreeting and thanks to the Telegraph fraternity throughout the world. Glory to God in the Highest, on Earth Peace, Goodwill to men. S.F.B. Morse

Morse died wealthy and famous, 10 months later on April 2, 1872.

New York City–The Morse celebration at the Academy of Music, June 10th–Professor Morse manipulating his signature to the message telegraphed by Miss Sadie E. Cornwell. 1871. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. //

This blog post was inspired by the Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress and accompanying timeline of Samuel F.B. Morse’s life.

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Categories: Research & Litigation

Asian Americans in the Military

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 11/14/2022 - 11:59am

The following is a guest post by Courtney Nomiyama, an intern with the Digital Resources Division of the Law Library of Congress. She is a graduate of the M.L.I.S. program at the University of Washington and a fourth-generation Japanese American.

I want you for U.S. Army: nearest recruiting station. Flagg, James Montgomery, artist. 1917. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Uncle Sam declared “I want you for U.S. Army.” But, who exactly is “you?” Asian Americans have fought in the United States military since the War of 1812, though the treatment of Asian Americans in the U.S. military has been defined and redefined.

The U.S. census played a role in “reflecting the politics and science of the times” and thus, how Asian American enlistees in the military were categorized. The shifting of these categories over time meant that Asian American veterans had challenges receiving benefits from their service. The ever-changing status of Asian Americans’ enlistment reflected the complex dynamics of race in the U.S. military.

During the Civil War, military officials used the 1850 Census Act to classify Asian American recruits. It declared three categories for color: white, black, or mulatto, determined by enumerators that filled out the census themselves. Depending on the enumerator, Asian Americans were marked as either “white,” “mulatto,” or even left blank. As a result, Asian Americans in the military served in varying types of units. For example, Joseph Pierce of Chinese descent enlisted in the 14th Connecticut Infantry Regiment, an all-white unit. Similarly, William Ah Hang, also of Chinese descent, enlisted in the Navy and served alongside white colleagues. John Banks, who was of East Indian descent, however, enlisted in the United States Colored Troops alongside African Americans. Such categorizations impacted benefits as members of the United States Colored Troops were paid at a reduced rate.

Joseph Pierce’s military records. War Department. Compiled Military Service Record of Corporal Joseph Pierce, Company F, 14th Connecticut Infantry Regiment. Series: Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the American Civil War, 1890 – 1912, 1890.

Corporal Joseph Pierce of Co. F, 14th Connecticut Infantry Regiment in uniform. Hunt, William. 1862-1865. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

After the passage of the Geary Act in 1892, all Asian service members, including those who had served in white regiments, still had to apply for citizenship and pension authorization. William Ah Hang, for example, enjoyed citizenship and voting rights for years post-war until the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Geary Act stripped him of these benefits.

The turn of the 20th century introduced new race categories to the census, including distinctions between Asian groups that reflected growing concerns over Asian immigration. In the 1910 and 1920 censuses, the category “color” was renamed “color or race” and included designations for white, black, mulatto, Chinese, Japanese, American Indian, or other. The system of having enumerators record respondents’ information was still in practice in 1910 and 1920.

Although the census had introduced more specific categories pertaining to race, during World War I, Asian Americans were still largely described in relation to other ethnic groups. For example, the U.S. military described Asian Americans as non-white recruits. In 1922, the Supreme Court interpreted the 1870 Naturalization Act to extend naturalization to “free white persons…and persons of African descent.” Specifically, Ozawa vs. United States and Bhagat Singh Thind vs. United States deemed those of Japanese or Indian descent, respectively, ineligible for naturalized citizenship since they were not considered “white.” Notably, Bhagat Singh Thind was a World War I veteran. The 1935 Alien Veteran Naturalization Act, also known as the Nye-Lea Act, restored citizenship after a long legal battle especially involving Asian American veterans. Tokutaro Slocum, of Japanese descent, was one such individual who advocated for the restoration of citizenship based on veteran service.

The attack on Pearl Harbor and the World War II Pacific Theater increased tensions among Asian ethnic groups to avoid the label of “enemy.” While the census still retained “color or race” as a category, President Roosevelt invoked the Alien Enemies Act to deem Japanese Americans and those of Japanese descent as “enemy aliens.” This shifted the focus of Asian Americans’ status in the military from race and citizenship towards loyalty, patriotism, and belonging.

“And this,” says a lieutenant of the Japanese-American 442nd Combat Team anti-tank company, “is what you look through to see what you’re going to shoot”. Mississippi Camp Shelby, 1943. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Meanwhile, Chinese, Filipino, and other Asian Americans fought early on and throughout the war without these interrogations. As the need for more volunteers grew, the U.S. military allowed for the recruitment of Japanese Americans, even while their families were relocated to internment camps. In order for nisei to serve, they were required to fill out what became known as the “loyalty questionnaire,” which purported to measure an individual’s loyalty to the United States.

Issues of citizenship and recognition emerged again following the aftermath of World War II. In particular, Filipino soldiers who had been promised citizenship struggled to gain full benefits post-war. The Rescission Act of 1946 determined that the service of Filipinos “shall not be deemed to be or to have been service in the military or national forces of the United States or any component thereof or any law of the United States conferring rights, privileges or benefits.” Decades later, the government gradually reversed this policy through the passages of the Immigration Act of 1990; the Veterans Health Care, Capital Asset, and Business Improvement Act; the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015.

Executive Order 9981 called for the integration of all armed forces in 1946. The Vietnam War used the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which made no reference to race or color. However, many Asian Americans faced discrimination and trauma as the United States fought another Asian enemy. During training, Asian Americans were likened to the Viet Cong and used as a reference for enemy profiles.

The United States recruited local Southeast Asians to fight in the Vietnam War. Hmong and Montagnards fought in Laos and Vietnam, assisting U.S. war efforts, but after the war faced many challenges. Many became refugees after the U.S. withdrew from Southeast Asia. The passage of the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act and United States Refugee Act allowed for the resettlement of some refugees, but did not automatically grant citizenship. Also, Hmong veterans did not benefit from veteran status until the passage of the Hmong Veterans’ Naturalization Act of 2000.

The service of Asian Americans has faced challenges and still does today. Asian servicemembers are underrepresented relative to the U.S. population, and the United States has created special immigrant programs for those that aided the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For more information on Asian Americans in the military, please see the story map: Belonging On and Off the Battlefield: Asian Americans in the U.S. Military.

Further Reading


Lee, Erika. Making of Asian America, 2015.

Library of Congress, Library of Congress, Veterans History Project, Asian Pacific Americans: Going for Broke.

National Park Service, Asians and Pacific Islanders and the Civil War, 2016.

Shenk, Gerald. “Work or Fight!” Race, Gender, and the Draft in World War One, 2005. 

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Legal Research Reports: United States and United Kingdom: Comparative Recent Developments in Environmental Law

Law Library of Congress: Research Reports - Mon, 11/14/2022 - 10:35am

The Law Library of Congress is proud to present the report, United States and United Kingdom: Comparative Recent Developments in Environmental Law

This report summarizes recent environmental law developments in the United Kingdom and the United States. In both jurisdictions, environmental law refers to the area of law concerning environmental protection. In general,  environmental law focuses on the main areas of clean air, clean water, the conservation of species, and the preservation of natural resources. This report addresses clean air and water as well as aspects of national environmental governance and international environmental cooperation in each country. (October 2022)

Categories: Research & Litigation

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its Government Structure

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 11/10/2022 - 7:00am

The following is a guest post by Jesús Colón Rosado, an intern working in the Public Services Division at the Law Library of Congress.

The Spanish-American War and Its Aftermath in Puerto Rico

On July 25, 1898, American forces invaded Puerto Rico in the midst of the Spanish-American War. The Treaty of Paris marked the end of the war, when it was signed by the United States and Spain on December 10, 1898. Through this treaty, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines to the United States. The treaty provided, “The civil rights and political status of the natural inhabitants of the territories hereby ceded to the United States shall be determined by Congress.”

Bombardment of San Juan, Porto Rico [i.e. Puerto Rico] (c1898). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, //

On April 2, 1900, President McKinley signed the Foraker Act (ch. 101, 31 Stat. 77) into law, establishing a civilian government in Puerto Rico. The new government had a governor and executive council appointed by the U.S. president, a legislature with 35 elected members, a judicial system with a high court, and a non-voting resident commissioner in Congress.

Under President Woodrow Wilson, the Jones-Shafroth Act (ch. 148, 39 Stat. 951) was enacted on March 2, 1917. This law granted U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans, and separated the territory’s executive, judicial, and legislative offices into distinct government branches. This law granted civil rights to Puerto Ricans and created a locally-elected bicameral legislature, composed of the Senate and House of Representatives. Although the Jones Act created a republican structure of government, the law granted the governor and U.S. president the right to veto any legislation passed by the legislature, and the U.S. retained the power to stop any action taken by Puerto Rico’s legislature.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

In 1950, Congress enacted the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act (ch. 446, 64 Stat. 319). The law authorized Puerto Rico to adopt a constitution defining its internal governance structure. Puerto Rico held a constitutional convention (article in Spanish) from September 17, 1951, to February 5, 1952, which produced a constitution. By popular vote, a majority of the Puerto Ricans adopted this constitution on March 3, 1952. On July 3, 1952, Congress passed a joint resolution (ch. 567, 66 Stat. 327) approving the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Shortly thereafter, Governor Luis Muñoz Marín issued Administrative Bulletin 188, putting the constitution into effect.

Constitution in the Round, Photo by Flickruser Jerry Bowley (July 13, 2016). Used under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Like the U.S. states, Puerto Rico has a government system analogous to the U.S. federal government, with three independent, co-equal branches. Additionally, U.S. federal agencies, military bases, and a federal district court operate in Puerto Rico.

Executive Power

Puerto Rico’s constitution states that the territory’s executive power will be held by the governor of Puerto Rico, elected every four years by direct popular vote. There is no limit to the number of times a governor can be elected. Similar to the federal system, the governor has a constitutional cabinet, with secretaries who are appointed by the governor and confirmed with the advice and consent of the Puerto Rican (P.R.) Senate. One exception exists for the P.R. secretary of state, who must receive approval from the P.R. House of Representatives. Each administrative agency is empowered to create regulations through powers delegated by the P.R. legislature.

Unlike many U.S. states, Puerto Rico does not have a lieutenant governor. When the governor is temporarily unable to perform his or her functions, the secretary of state will serve as governor during the period of unavailability. If for any reason the secretary of state is unavailable, a secretary from the cabinet, as determined by law addressing succession, shall serve as an interim governor.

The governor’s powers include the authority to issue executive orders, grant pardons, and suspend or commute sentences in criminal cases. Unique to Puerto Rico, the governor may, when approving any appropriations bill containing multiple items, eliminate one or more line items or reduce their allotted appropriations.

Legislative Branch

The legislative branch comprises two bodies: the P.R. House of Representatives and the P.R. Senate. Puerto Ricans elect members every four years during the same election as the governor.

El Capitolio de Puerto Rico, Photo by Flickruser Wayne Hsieh (July 13, 2016). Used under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The House is composed of 51 representatives, while the Senate has 27 members. The P.R. constitution has a mechanism for increasing the number of legislators under certain circumstances. For example, article III, section 7 provides that if, during a general election, more than two-thirds of the members of either chamber represent a single party or candidacy, the number of legislators can be increased to prevent a super-majority in the P.R. House or Senate. As with the governor, legislators are not subject to term limits.

Puerto Rico is organized into 40 representative districts and eight senatorial districts. Each representative district chooses one member, and each senatorial district chooses two senators. The P.R. constitution also contemplates the election of eleven members in both houses, known as representatives and senators at large.

Akin to the U.S. Congress, each legislative body adopts the rules for its operation and internal government. Under article III, section 14 of the P.R. constitution, members of the legislative assembly enjoy parliamentary immunity for their votes and expressions made in chambers or during any of its commissions. Additionally, the P.R. constitution specifies that members may not be “arrested while the house of which he is a member is in session, or during the fifteen days before or after such session, except for treason, felony or breach of the peace.”

The legislative assembly has exclusive power to impeach the governor of Puerto Rico. The P.R. House of Representatives initiates the process by formulating an accusation approved by a minimum of two-thirds of its members. The P.R. Senate then is responsible for holding a trial and issuing a judgment.

Judicial Branch

The judicial power of Puerto Rico is exercised by the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, as well as the lower courts created by the legislative assembly. According to the P.R. constitution, the legislative assembly may create and abolish courts, except for the supreme court, as well as determine the venue and organization of the lower courts. The system is a three-tiered hierarchy, with the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Court of First Instance. Puerto Rico’s judiciary is one of general jurisdiction.

The governor appoints judges at all court levels, with the advice and consent of the senate. Although supreme court judges have no term limits, they must retire when they turn 70. Otherwise, they can only be removed from office through the impeachment process established in the P.R. constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court has the authority to review Puerto Rican court cases in the same manner that it reviews decisions of U.S. state courts.

Additional Resources

If you would like to learn more about the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s government structure, you can consult these additional selected sources:

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Legal Research Reports: Legal framework for nuclear technology and information : Australia, United Kingdom

Law Library of Congress: Research Reports - Wed, 11/09/2022 - 10:30am

The Law Library of Congress is proud to present the report, Legal framework for nuclear technology and information : Australia, United Kingdom

The report provides a high level overview of how these countries’ laws and policies require them to handle nuclear technology and information, including in the context of meeting some of the obligations contained in the new AUKUS agreement on the exchange of naval nuclear propulsion information, which was signed by Australia, the UK, and the United States (US) in November 2021. (Feb. 2022)

Categories: Research & Litigation

Upcoming US Law Webinars – December 2022

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 11/09/2022 - 7:00am

In December, as the Law Library’s 2022 schedule of U.S. law webinars comes to a close, the Public Services Division will present a webinar on federal administrative law. More details about the class are provided below.

Be sure to keep an eye out on the blog, the Legal Research Institute, and the Law Library’s social media for information about upcoming webinars this year on other topics, including foreign, comparative, and international law. And stay tuned to these same channels for information on our 2023 webinars.

Lippincott’s December. (1895). J. J. Gould, Jr., artist. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, //

Orientation to Legal Research: Tracing Federal Regulations

Date: Thursday, December 1, 2022, 11:00 a.m. EST – 12:00 p.m. EST

Content: This entry in the series provides an overview of U.S. federal regulations, including information about the notice-and-comment rulemaking process, the publication and citation of regulations, and the tracing of regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations, to the proposed rule in the Federal Register, to the regulation’s docket.

Instructor: Anna Price – Senior Legal Reference Librarian. Anna holds a BS in communications from Ithaca College, a JD from the University of Washington School of Law, and an MLIS from the University of Washington iSchool.

Register here.

To learn about other upcoming classes on domestic and foreign law topics, visit the Legal Research Institute.

Subscribe to In Custodia Legis – it’s free! – to receive interesting posts drawn from the Law Library of Congress’s vast collections and our staff’s expertise in U.S., foreign, and international law.

Categories: Research & Litigation
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