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Research & Litigation

Legal Research Reports: Supply Chain Regulation of Pharmaceutical Samples

The Law Library of Congress is proud to present the report, Supply Chain Regulation of Pharmaceutical Samples.

This research surveys several countries’ regulations regarding “serialization” of pharmaceutical products and whether these regulations apply to free medicinal product samples. The attached reports explore the specific “track and trace” or “serialization” laws and regulations in the European Union, Japan, and Turkey. While technical aspects of serialization differ across jurisdictions, one widely used benchmark for legislation is the voluntary GS1 standards, and specifically the Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). Globally, it is estimated that 70 countries have based their regulatory requirements for traceability of pharmaceuticals on these standards.

This report is one of the many prepared by the Law Library of Congress. Visit the Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports page for a complete listing of reports and the Current Legal Topics page for our highlighted and newer reports. 



Categories: Research & Litigation

30th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

In Custodia Legis - 13 hours 26 min ago

The following is a guest post by Elizabeth Boomer, a legal research analyst in the Global Legal Research Directorate. Elizabeth has previously written for In Custodia Legis on Technology & the Law of Corporate Responsibility – The Impact of Blockchain.

Children Playing in Sand [1922]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Today, November 20, 2019, marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). It also marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and the 65th anniversary of World Children’s Day, which was established as Universal Children’s Day in 1954. This year, in honor of the UNCRC anniversary, 47 countries made 192 pledges to educate the public on children’s rights, take legislative and other measures to implement the Convention, ensure all children have access to education, ensure children’s view are respected, and protect children from violence.

The UNCRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, with 196 ratifications. To commemorate these anniversaries, the UN Human Rights Council, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and their partners will host events in Geneva and New York. The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the independent body of experts that monitors implementation of the UNCRC and, since 2014, is able to accept individual communications from children regarding specific violations of their rights under the UNCRC.

The Law Library of Congress has a large collection of materials related to children’s rights, in addition to a number of published reports and blog posts covering legal issues affecting children.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Technology & the Law of Corporate Responsibility – The Impact of Blockchain

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 11/19/2019 - 9:30am

The following is a guest post by Elizabeth Boomer, a legal research analyst in the Global Legal Research Directorate.

Picture by Susan Taylor-Pikulsky.

Blockchain, a technology regularly associated with digital currency, is increasingly being utilized as a corporate social responsibility tool in major international corporations. This intersection of law, technology, and corporate responsibility was addressed earlier this month at the World Bank Law, Justice, and Development Week 2019, where the theme was Rights, Technology and Development. The law related to corporate responsibility for sustainable development is increasingly visible due in part to several lawsuits against large international corporations, alleging the use of child and forced labor. In addition, the United Nations has been working for some time on a treaty on business and human rights to encourage corporations to avoid “causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities and [to] address such impacts when they occur.”

DeBeers, Volvo, and Coca-Cola, among other industry leaders, are using blockchain, a technology that allows digital information to be distributed and analyzed, but not copied or manipulated, to trace the source of materials and better manage their supply chains. These initiatives have come as welcome news in industries where child or forced labor in the supply chain can be hard to detect, e.g. conflict minerals, sugar, tobacco, and cacao. The issue is especially difficult when trying to trace the mining of cobalt for lithium ion batteries, increasingly used in electric cars, because the final product is not directly traceable to a single source.

While non governmental organizations (NGOs) have been advocating for improved corporate performance in supply chains regarding labor and environmental standards for years, blockchain may be a technological tool that could reliably trace information regarding various products – from food to minerals – that go through several layers of suppliers before being certified as slave- or child labor- free.

Child labor and forced labor are still common in some countries. The majority of countries worldwide have ratified International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 182, prohibiting the worst forms of child labor (186 ratifications), as well as the ILO Convention prohibiting forced labor (No. 29, with 178 ratifications), and the abolition of forced labor (Convention No. 105, with 175 ratifications). However, the ILO estimates that approximately 40 million men and women are engaged in modern day slavery and 152 million children are subject to child labor, 38% of whom are working in hazardous conditions. The enduring existence of forced labor and child labor raises difficult ethical questions, because in many contexts, the victim does not have a viable alternative livelihood.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the ILO have been especially active in trying to find viable solutions for men, women, and children to end child and forced labor.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Rare Book Video – The Articles of Confederation

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 11/15/2019 - 8:30am

On this day in 1777, the first Constitution of the United States, the Articles of Confederation, was adopted by the Continental Congress. Our latest rare book video features the first printing of the Articles of Confederation. This item is held by the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Highlights of the 2019 Columbus Day Open House

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 3:39pm

Law Library display at the 2019 Columbus Day Open House [Photo by Geraldine Davila Gonzalez]

 Anna Price, Legal Reference Librarian at the Law Library of Congress, collaborated on this post 

On October 14, 2019, the Jefferson Building opened the doors of the Main Reading Room to the general public, providing tours and a chance to learn about a few of the divisions within the Library of Congress. Staff welcomed 5,437 visitors, including the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Representatives from the Law Library of CongressScience, Technology & BusinessNational Library Service for the Blind and Print DisabledU.S. Copyright OfficeSerial and Government Publications, and Local History & Genealogy divisions were in attendance displaying collection materials and discussing their resources.

The Library holds its semi-annual open house, October 14, 2019. Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress.

At our Law Library table, we wanted to show visitors that not all law books are intimidating, multi-volume treatises. With that goal in mind, and because we knew many of the visitors would be families with children, we showcased our collection of juvenile biographies on Supreme Court Justices for young readers. Some of the titles included: Louis Brandeis: The People’s Justice, by Suzanne Freedman; Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik; Thurgood Marshall, by Luke Collins, and Sonia Sotomayor: Supreme Court Justice; by Paige V. Polinsky.

We were fortunate to meet many interesting people throughout the event, but a few interactions are worth sharing.

  • A former Pepperdine University School of Law professor came to our desk and mentioned that he had written The Criminal Law Color Book and was curious to see if we had it cataloged. He was pleased to learn that we hold two copies in our collection.
  • A recent law school graduate and her mother told us that their relative had corresponded with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and they were interested in finding copies of the exchanged letters. We walked them through the online catalog system, explained how to read a catalog entry, and referred them to our colleagues in the Manuscript Reading Room for further assistance.
  • Two professional musicians visited our station, looking for copies of their work. Although we are not music experts, we helped them find some of their recorded performances in the catalog. They shared that they were in town playing with Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, and wanted to know if we had a copy of Mr. Sinise’s recent book. After we found the catalog record, the visitors took a photo with one of our librarians next to the catalog entry and texted it to Mr. Sinise.

Overall, it was a fun day with many opportunities for visitors to learn about the Library, and for Law Library staff to answer questions both within and outside the realm of legal research.

The Library of Congress holds its open house semi-annually. To learn more about events taking place at the Library, click here. To learn more about events hosted by the Law Library throughout the year, subscribe to our email feed.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Legal Research Reports: Legal Restrictions on Religious Slaughter of Animals in Europe

Law Library of Congress: Research Reports - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 3:38pm

The Law Library of Congress is proud to present the report, Legal Restrictions on Religious Slaughter of Animals in Europe.

This report includes surveys of the laws of 25 European jurisdictions concerning the legality of religious slaughter, updating and expanding the Law Library’s March 2018 report. All European countries that do not allow kosher or halal slaughter of animals are included; some but not all countries that permit such slaughter subject to regulation are also included. In addition, the report summarizes a February 2019 European Court of Justice decision on religious slaughter and organic labeling. 

This report is one of the many prepared by the Law Library of Congress. Visit the Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports page for a complete listing of reports and the Current Legal Topics page for our highlighted and newer reports. 

Categories: Research & Litigation

Martha Nussbaum on Philosophy and Life: The 2019 Kellogg Biennial Lecture in Jurisprudence

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 3:08pm

Philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum will be the featured speaker at the 2019 Kellogg Biennial Lecture in Jurisprudence at the Library of Congress. Photo courtesy of Martha C. Nussbaum.

Join us for the 2019 Frederic R. and Molly S. Kellogg Biennial Lecture in Jurisprudence!

Philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum will be the featured speaker for the 10th anniversary of the event on Wednesday, December 4 at 5:00 p.m. Brian Butler, professor of philosophy and legal scholar at the University of North Carolina Asheville, will interview Professor Nussbaum on “Philosophy and Life: Fragility, Emotions, Capabilities.” A question-and-answer period will follow.

Register at We recommend reserving your tickets early, as these will go quickly and space is limited! We will not livestream this event, so you will want to be in the room!

Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics appointed in both the Law School and Philosophy Department at the University of Chicago, where she is also an Associate in the Classics Department, the Divinity School, and the Political Science Department; a Member of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies; and a Board Member of the Human Rights Program. Among her awards is the Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture, which she won in 2018.

Read her full biography in the press release.



A selection of Nussbaum’s books held by the Library of Congress include:

Categories: Research & Litigation

Portraits in Massachusetts Law: Lucy Stone

Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 5:00am
Portraits in Massachusetts Law is a regular feature of Massachusetts Law Updates. These pages provide links to biographical information abut people who have been particularly important in legal history in Massachusetts, as our government took shape in the cauldron of the American Revolution and grew and changed throughout   ...Continue Reading Portraits in Massachusetts Law: Lucy Stone
Categories: Research & Litigation New, Tip, and Top for November 2019

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 11/12/2019 - 5:13pm

Last month Margaret shared the update to our Committee Profile pages that added new links to our Committee Schedule.  This was one in a series of improvements surrounding the Committee Schedule that first launched in January.  We added the next three scheduled hearings to the homepage, links from the hearing pages to the legislation or nomination that is being discussed, links from the legislation to the committee hearing, and all of the hearing pages to our search, which also enables a user to get a saved search alert on committee meetings.

Enhancements for November 2019

Below are the new enhancements for this release.

Enhancement – Senate Amendments – Withdrawn Cosponsors

  • Withdrawn cosponsors are now displayed on Senate Amendments.

Enhancement – Search Results – Accessibility

  • Coding improvements have been made to allow screen readers to navigate to search results with one click.

Visit our Enhancements page for all the updates to

Search Tip

This week’s tip is on the new expanded view for the Committee Schedule:

Today’s Tip follows up on the October 4 tip, when we announced that you can filter the Committee Schedule by chamber or committee.

Here’s another helpful new Committee Schedule feature:

Select the Expanded option in the Weekly View to see detailed information for each hearing and meeting scheduled at a glance, including hearing titles, witness lists and links to related legislation (when available).

Switching between Compact and Expanded on the Weekly Committee Schedule

Most-Viewed Bills

Below are the most-viewed bills for the week of November 3, 2019.  All of them are from the 116th Congress.

1. H.Res.660 Directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, and for other purposes. 2. H.Res.296 Affirming the United States record on the Armenian Genocide. 3. H.R.1111 Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2019 4. S.386 Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 5. H.R.3055 Commerce, Justice, Science, Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Act, 2020 6. H.R.1044 Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 7. H.R.4695 Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act 8. H.R.823 Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act 9. S.1838 Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 10. H.R.724 Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act

Please leave a comment below or share feedback with enhancements you would like for

Categories: Research & Litigation

Spanish Legal Documents (15th – 19th Centuries): Laws and Statutes; Notarial Instruments

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 11/08/2019 - 8:33am

The following post was written in collaboration with Dante Figueroa, Senior Legal Information Analyst at the Law Library of Congress.

Today we bring you another big update from our Spanish Legal Documents series. For more on the history of this collection, as well as our ongoing efforts to present the full collection online, see our previous posts describing the Briefs, Canon Law and Opinions & Judgments categories.

Royal Order of April 2, 1767 issued by King Carlos III approving the deportation from the country and seizure of properties of the religious order of the Jesuits.

Our fourth published category is Laws & Statutes, which consists of 547 royal decrees, ordinances, and local regulations issued by kings and lords, such as those concerning the organization and function of agencies and the appointment of officials. A large proportion of these issuances concern the kingdoms of Aragon and Catalonia.

Coinciding with this larger update, we are also announcing the release of our fifth—and smallest—category, Notarial Instruments. These 13 documents consist of certifications extracted from notarial records concerning wills, donations, agreements on debts, freedom of prisoners, collection of taxes, and weighing of grains.

The royal orders in the Laws & Statutes category cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from the spread of contagious diseases, to the regulation of firearms and a prohibition against private duels, to declarations of war against foreign nations, to the simple production and consumption of olive oil.

While most of the orders imposed regulations or restrictions, or might be considered otherwise punitive, some provided an extension or declaration of rights, such as the one extending the right of free trade to Buenos Aires, Chile and Perú, or one granting certain rights to tenants facing eviction.

One particularly well-documented episode in this category is described in a series of orders relating to Spain’s expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767. In a defining moment of his domestic legacy, Charles III of Spain followed a pattern already enacted by Portugal (1759) and France (1764), and ordered the deportation of Jesuits from the Spanish Empire as well as the seizure of their properties. According to the King’s instructions, the Count of Aranda was given the power to implement the expulsion order, which was to be made expeditiously and by surprise. The order also provides a list of houses, educational institutions, and residences of the Jesuits to be confiscated and placed under the protection of the King.

While much has been written about the events leading up to the Jesuit suppression in Spain, and some historians differ [access by subscription database] in their explanations, a common historical account is that their expulsion was closely associated with a popular uprising that took place in Madrid in 1766 in response to an order restricting the length of men’s capes and the breadth of their sombreros. The revolt became known as the Esquilache Riots, named after the King’s minister who became associated with the order. Charles III, who had been forced to flee Madrid for his own security, was convinced by the Count of Aranda of the Jesuits’ role in the uprising and used this as a pretext for their suppression.

Royal Order of March 25, 1766 regulating the manner of dressing in the Kingdom of Spain. It also regulates the price of bread, bacon, oil and soap.

The above document from the collection, dated March 25, 1766 and issued in the midst of the uprising, cancels the dress restrictions and price increases, reestablishing citizens’ permission to wear long capes and rounded hats without penalty. The order also lowers the price of bread and oil and sets price caps for bread, bacon and soap; and orders the dismissal of the King’s minister, the Marquis of Esquilache.

By early 1767, however, the Jesuits’ role as scapegoats for the disturbance was made apparent by the subsequent actions taken by the King and the Extraordinary Council that he appointed to investigate the uprising. While the suppression of the Jesuits continued throughout Europe in the late 18th century, one document in our collection suggests that the King’s successor, Charles IV, formally allowed Spanish Jesuits to return to Spain roughly 31 years later, on March 14, 1798, provided that they return only to their relatives’ houses or to convents, and never to any royal-linked facility or venue.

We look forward to bringing you more illuminating stories from this collection with every new release. Stay tuned for updates as we bring your our sixth and final category in the coming months.

Categories: Research & Litigation

40 Years of Gender Neutral Succession Rules for Swedish Royals

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 11/07/2019 - 4:28pm

Sweden, Stockholm waterfront. [Between 1910 and 1925.] Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Picture shows Swedish Royal Castle.

While researching one issue related to laws in my jurisdictional portfolio I often come across another interesting piece of information. For instance, while reading about the Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf’s decision to revoke the royal highness titles for five of his grandchildren, I realized that today, November 7, 2019, marks the 40th anniversary of the amendment to the Swedish Constitution that changed the order of royal succession. The Amendment made Swedish Princess Victoria Crown Princess and stripped then Crown Prince Carl Philip of his title and place as first in line to the throne, making him only a Prince and second in line to the throne. Thus, his big sister, at the age of two, went from being a princess to a Crown Princess when the Swedish Parliament voted to revise the succession order.

The new provision, in article 1 of the Act on Succession, states that:

The right of succession to the throne of Sweden is vested in the male and female descendants of King Carl XVI Gustaf, Crown Prince Johan Baptist Julii, later King Karl XIV Johan’s, issue in direct line of descent. In this connection, older siblings and their descendants have precedence over younger siblings and their descendants.

The process of amending the Swedish constitution to give then baby Victoria the Swedish crown had begun in 1977 with the government report SOU 1977:5 Kvinnlig tronföljd, following the princess’ birth in 1977.  The decision to review the adoption of female succession was taken even earlier, already in 1975, with a vote in Parliament of 151 in favor and 149 against. The final proposal (Proposition 1977/78:71) was brought before the Parliament in 1978 and 1979. Because changing the Act of Succession meant amending the Swedish Constitution, it had to be voted on twice by Parliament, with a general election in between. (8 kap. 14 § Regeringsformen (RF) [Instrument of Government] [Constitution].) A general election was held on September 16, 1979. The final vote in favor of gender neutral royal succession was cast on November 7, 1979. The law entered into force on January 1, 1980. Thus, the titles of the royal children were changed on that day.

At the time, the royal family opposed the changes to the succession order. The Swedish King, himself the fifth child with four older sisters, did not officially comment the legislation, but reportedly wanted to keep Prince Carl Philip as the royal heir, and to include female successors only if there was no male (brother) heir. According to reports, the King is nevertheless happy today with the outcome of the succession rules and his daughter’s performance as heir to the throne.

Other Changes as a Result of the Amendment to the Succession Rules

The change in succession also had effect on the family name of the Princess’ offspring. Prior to 1979, a child born to a Princess would have received the father’s last name, but now, as they are in direct line to the throne, they automatically receive the royal last name Bernadotte. The Princess Consort (person married to a princess), however, has the option of including his own name in conjunction with Bernadotte. When Victoria wed in 2010, her husband Daniel Westling did indeed proceed to take her name in conjunction with his own, and is now known as Prince Daniel, but legally named Daniel Westling Bernadotte. Mr. Christopher O’Neil, who wed Princess Madeleine in 2013, kept his name and chose to not become a member of the Swedish Royal House, meaning he has no title, and no restrictions.

The 1979 changes to the Succession Act also meant a revocation of the prohibition for a Swedish prince to marry a commoner, i.e. “enskild svensk mans dotter.” A change that Prince Carl Philip himself availed himself of when he, on June 13, 2015, married Miss Sofia Hellqvist, making her Princess Sofia. Prior to the change, a Swedish prince could not, with or without the permission of the King, marry a commoner (5 § Act of Succession, as in force prior to January 1, 1980). One may say that he lost a kingdom, but gained a princess.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Legal Research Reports:The Revocation of Huguenot Rights to French Citizenship

Law Library of Congress: Research Reports - Wed, 11/06/2019 - 4:40pm

The Law Library of Congress is proud to present the report, The Revocation of Huguenot Rights to French Citizenship

The 1685 revocation of the Edict of Nantes deprived French Protestants, otherwise known as the Huguenots, of all religious and civil liberties.  This led to the widespread persecution of Huguenots, and over 400,000 emigrated from France as a result.  Religious freedom was re-established during the French Revolution, and a 1790 law provided that descendants of French individuals who had fled the country due to religious persecution had a right to settle in France and claim French citizenship.  This rule, confirmed in a slightly amended form in 1889, remained applicable until 1945, when the French Citizenship Code abrogated almost all prior legislation on the matter of citizenship, including the laws of 1790 and 1889.

The 1945 French Citizenship Code was adopted by way of an ordonnance, which is, in this context, an act of delegated legislation.  The French Constitution allows, under certain conditions, the executive branch to legislate in lieu of Parliament.  These acts of legislation, which are subject to both prior authorization and later confirmation by Parliament, are called ordonnances.  Once an ordonnance has been ratified or confirmed by Parliament, it becomes the equivalent of a law.  An ordonnance may amend or entirely abrogate prior legislation. 

The concept of delegated legislation has existed in France for a long time, under different names.  However, the 1945 ordonnance that instituted the then-new French Citizenship Code never authorized by Parliament, because France had no Parliament to speak of between July 1940 and October 1945.  It does not appear that the legality and legitimacy of the ordonnances of 1945 were ever challenged, and French courts treat them as a valid exercise of legislative authority.  The 1945 ordonnance which abrogated the right to French citizenship for descendants of Huguenots should therefore be seen as a valid piece of legislation under French law.

This report is one of the many prepared by the Law Library of Congress. Visit the Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports page for a complete listing of reports and the Current Legal Topics page for our highlighted and newer reports. 

Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Abdulhadi Zafar, Foreign Law Intern

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 11/06/2019 - 10:00am

Today’s interview is with Abdulhadi Zafar, a foreign law intern working with Foreign Law Specialist George Sadek at the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress. Abdulhadi conducts research on the laws of Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Photo by Kelly McKenna


Describe your background?

I am from Saudi Arabia. I was born and raised in the holy city of Mecca. I have a big, loving family with two sisters and nine brothers. My family raised me in a conservative way in which I had to study in a special religious school. My school is called Dar al-Hadith Makkah. It has a different curriculum from other government schools that focuses on Sharia (Islamic Law) studies.

What is your academic/professional history?

In 2015, I received my bachelor’s degree in Sharia and law with honors from Umm Al-Qura University in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. After that, I worked at my university as a legal researcher until I received a full scholarship from my government to continue my LL.M degree in the United States. I am currently completing an LL.M. in International Business and Economic Law with a certificate in arbitration at Georgetown Law Center. 

How would you describe your job to other people?

I work under my supervisor, George Sadek. I conduct research on legal developments in the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCC). Those countries are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. After I discover a new legal development in the GCC countries, I write a Global Legal Monitor (GLM) article about it. Also, I provide legal responses concerning any questions about the GCC countries.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

I found the internship position in the database of Georgetown Law website. I immediately applied because I have been looking for a position in the Law Library since last year. I believe that this internship in the Law Library will help me to have a successful career in the academic field in the future. Also, I believe that such experience in the field of legal research will help me to apply for a doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) program in the United States.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

I had no idea before that the Law Library of Congress has so many employees. On my first day, my supervisor introduced me to the legal specialists who work in the Global Legal Research Directorate. I was surprised at the level of experience that each legal specialist has. I was amazed at how diverse the Global Legal Research Directorate is. There is an attorney from each part of the world working on an array of jurisdictions simultaneously.

What is something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I love playing soccer. I was a professional soccer player in Saudi Arabia for Alwehda Club. I play soccer twice a week nowadays. I also love watching soccer games when I have time.

Categories: Research & Litigation

In Japan: Pardon System Debated

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 11/05/2019 - 10:36am

The following is a guest post by Sayuri Umeda, a foreign law specialist who covers Japan and other countries in East and Southeast Asia. Sayuri has previously written posts for In Custodia Legis on various topics, including New Era, New Law Number, Holy Cow – Making Sense of Japanese Wagyu Cow Export RulesJapanese Criminal Legal System as Seen Through the Carlos Ghosn CaseDisciplining Judges for “Bad Tweets”Engagement under Japanese Law and Imperial House RulesIs the Sound of Children Actually Noise?, and many more.

The Japanese government issued a pardon order on October 22, 2019 (Cabinet Order No. 131 of 2019) and also notified special acceptance of requests for pardon (Kancho Jiko, Oct. 22, 2019) on the day of celebration of Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement. These are based on the Pardons Act (Act No. 20 of 1947, amended by Act No. 49 of 2013, arts 10 & 12). This is the tenth occasion that pardon orders were issued and/or requests for pardon were specially accepted under the current Constitution, Constitution of Japan, 1946, according to a chart provided by the National Diet Library publication (NDL).

Under article 16 of the previous Constitution, Constitution of the Empire of Japan, 1889, the Emperor had the power to pardon criminals. Historically, pardons have been issued on the occasions of Imperial successions and Imperial family matters, such as marriages of crown princes. Under article 73 of the current Constitution, the Cabinet has the power to pardon criminals. However, the Cabinet has issued pardons at occasions of Imperial family matters, in addition to occasions of national importance, such as the enforcement of the Peace Treaty after World War II (End of the Allied Occupation) in 1952 and the return of Okinawa (from the United States) in 1972.

Cabinet Order No. 131 of 2019

This pardon order restores certain criminals’ civil rights and/or qualifications early. People found guilty and fined over one or more minor offenses are subject to the pardon order. As of October 22, 2019, three years must have passed since the person(s) paid fines. If those people have received sentences of imprisonment for the same or separate crimes, the effect of those imprisonment sentences are not affected. Approximately 550,000 are subject to the pardon. The itemized ratio of crimes charged to those are: 65.2% for violations of the Road Traffic Act (driving without license, driving under the influence of alcohol, and others), 17.4% for bodily injury or death caused by negligent driving, 3.3% for assault or bodily injury, 2.6% for theft, and 11.4% for other crimes, including violations of election law.

Among them, persons who actually benefit from the pardon order are those who had their qualifications suspended or lost qualifications for professions or statuses due to receiving sentences of fines. For example, under the Medical Practitioners’ Act (Act No. 201 of 1948, as amended, arts. 4 & 7) or the Act on Public Health Nurses, Midwives, and Nurses (Act No. 203 of 1948, as amended, arts 9 & 14), authorities may revoke licenses of persons who were sentenced to fines and/or imprisonments. These persons cannot regain their licenses for five years from the revocation of those licenses. Other persons who benefit are those who were found guilty of violating the Public Offices Election Act (Act No. 100 of 1950, as amended) and fined. They are usually barred from running for public office and voting for five or ten years, according to article 252 of the Act. For these persons, the disqualification periods are shortened.

Special Acceptance of Requests For Pardon

A convicted person can request a pardon from the National Offenders Rehabilitation Commission through the correction facility, probation office, or prosecutor’s office any time after a certain period, depending on the punishment, according to article 6 of the Pardon Act Enforcement Ordinance (Ministry of Justice Ordinance 78 of 1947). This time, the Cabinet set special criteria for pardon and removed the time limitation for the requests for the limited time. Convicted criminals whose punishment of imprisonment or fine was suspended for a long time due to ill health or financial difficulties will be pardoned, if it is likely the situation will not change for a long time. The criminals must request a pardon and the Commission will decide on a case-by-case basis. Criminals can submit the requests for exemptions from the execution of sentences to a correction facility, probation office or prosecutor’s office until January 21, 2020.


These pardons are not popular in Japan at this time. An opinion poll in early October 2019 (Q.10) found that 60.2% people opposed the planned pardon ordered on October 22, 2019.  24.8% people were for it. Articles in newspapers and other media pointed out the main problems of the pardon:

  • The nature of pardon is to change the judicial decisions by the political power;
  • People may feel that it is unfair because criminals who happened to be punished at certain times get special treatments; and
  • It is inappropriate that the Cabinet makes people who violated election law recover their rights to vote and to be elected because the Cabinet and ruling political party may have political motivation to do so.

News articles and other outlets analyzed that the government was not very positive on issuing the pardon at this time, but since the issuance of a pardon at an emperor’s enthronement has been a long tradition, cabinet members did not feel like they must stop it this time. Articles also speculated that, as a compromise, the Cabinet issued the pardon in which the number of persons who are subject to the pardon is large, but the actual benefit and/or effect of the pardon is minimal.

An expert in legal sociology pointed out that the system of pardon itself has reasons, such as:

  • It can correct wrong judgments by courts that may unavoidably happen in any system; and
  • When punishments are considered too harsh in later times, they can be corrected.

It appears that opposition is getting stronger to issuing a Cabinet order to pardon a large number of unspecified criminals. Another point is whether pardons must be issued at the occasions of Imperial successions and Imperial family matters. Most articles are calling for a review of such tradition.

Then Empress Michiko and Emperor Akihito of Japan with Librarian of Congress James Billington and Marjorie Billington talk with a Library of Congress staff member while viewing a display of collection materials (created/published: June 14, 1994 ),

Categories: Research & Litigation

On the Shelf: International and Foreign Resources on Indigenous Law

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 11/04/2019 - 2:05pm

November is celebrated as National American Indian Heritage Month in the United States.

In addition to our guide to Indigenous Law Resources online for U.S.-centric sources on indigenous law, the Law Library also holds a number of international and foreign law resources on indigenous law in other countries. For instance, earlier this year, the Global Legal Research Directorate published a report on Protection of Indigenous Heritage. The report included individual submissions for Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, and the European Union, and analyzed “legislative and policy frameworks affecting the protection of sacred places of indigenous peoples, their graves, remains, related artifacts, and indigenous cultural property generally.”

Analysis of recent developments in foreign indigenous law can also be found by accessing the Global Legal Monitor and subscribing to the topic Native Peoples.

[A Lapp family, Norway][between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900].

We have also published a number of blog posts related to indigenous law on this blog. For example:

Indigenous foreign resources are also part of the law collection for individual countries, such as Australia, Canada, Norway, and Sweden.

Compilation of Library of Congress collection holdings related to Sami indigenous rights. Photo by Elin Hofverberg.



Categories: Research & Litigation

Word(s) of the month – suffrage

Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 5:00am
Words of law is a regular feature of Massachusetts Law Updates, highlighting a particular word or phrase and its meaning in law. Today’s word is suffrage. suffrage (sәf-rji). (14c) 1. the right or privilege of casting a vote at a public election. – Also termed right to vote.   ...Continue Reading Word(s) of the month – suffrage
Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Cecilia Contreras, Intern with the Digital Resources Division

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 10/31/2019 - 8:53am

Today’s interview is with Cecilia Contreras, an Intern in the Digital Resources Division of the Law Library of Congress.

                                           Cecilia Contreras. Photo by Geraldine Davila Gonzalez

Describe your background.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I come from a rather large family and I am the eldest of four siblings. I have lived my entire life in California and this is my first time on the East Coast.

What is your academic/professional history?

I received a bachelor’s degree in history from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly) in May of 2019. It was near the end of my undergraduate program that I was advised by a professor to apply for a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) internship. With the help of two professors at Cal Poly, I applied and received confirmation of my acceptance to the program within the month of August. On September 9, 2019, I began my first day here at the Law Library. This internship is the first of my professional career.

How would you describe your job to other people?

My job primarily consists of inventorying and providing metadata for a collection of miscellaneous Hispanic legal documents. This collection includes dozens of boxes of printed and handwritten legal documents from Spain and Latin America from the 15th through the 19th centuries. What I have found that I enjoy most is that some of these are preserved moments in time which describe some of the most important events in people’s lives. They are records recounting the baptism of a child, marriage request letters addressed to the Church, and last wills and testaments. They are windows into moments that marked the beginnings and endings of people’s lives hundreds of years ago, and because of this project people will have the chance to read them now in the 21st century.

 Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

My reason for wanting to work at the Law Library lies with the idea that through my work I could contribute to the Library’s efforts to provide accessible information to the public. My role in this project helps move along a process that will eventually lead to the digitization and publication of a collection that provides insight into the legal world of several Hispanic countries. It is a privilege for which I am very grateful.

 What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library of Congress?

There are a great many things I have learned about the Law Library during my time here. However, I think the most interesting would have to be that the Reading Room must always be open and staffed while Congress is in session, which, in my opinion, only goes to show the level of importance of the Law Library and of the personnel.

What’s something most of your colleagues do not know about you? 

I learned how to drive a car before I learned how to ride a bike, and by “I learned how to ride a bike” I mean I never learned how to ride a bike.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Save the Date: 2019 Kellogg Biennial Lecture in Jurisprudence

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 10/30/2019 - 11:07am

The Frederic R. and Molly S. Kellogg Biennial Lecture in Jurisprudence 2019 will take place on Wednesday, December 4 at 5:00 p.m.

Save the date on your calendars! The Law Library will present the Frederic R. and Molly S. Kellogg Biennial Lecture in Jurisprudence on Wednesday, December 4 at 5:00 p.m.

Are you on our email list? Subscribe to Law Library News & Events today to ensure you get the notification when registration opens in November!

Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Elizabeth Boomer, Legal Research Analyst

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 10/28/2019 - 9:46am

Today’s interview is with Elizabeth Boomer, a legal research analyst in the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

Photo by Donna Sokol

Describe your background.

I was born in Kansas and grew up in a small university town in Illinois, home of Western Illinois University. As a teenager, I couldn’t wait to move to the “big city,” but I will always be a small-town, Midwestern girl at heart.

What is your academic/professional history?

I have a degree in French from Truman State University in Missouri, where I had the opportunity to study abroad twice during my undergraduate studies – in Annecy, France, and at Université Laval in Québec City, Canada. These experiences opened my eyes to international studies and travel, and my academic and professional trajectory just went from there!

Following my bachelor’s degree, I completed a Master of Arts at American University’s School of International Service, and a J.D. at Howard University School of Law, both in Washington, DC. I then worked for two years in the international department of the AFL-CIO as a Global Workers’ Rights Fellow before I decided to undertake a one-year LL.M in international dispute settlement (MIDS) at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Following my LL.M, and before joining the Law Library of Congress, I worked in Geneva for five years as a graduate teaching assistant in international law, as well as a legal consultant at the International Labour Organization and the International Law Commission.

How would you describe your job to other people?

As a legal research analyst, I research and write about every area of international law imaginable! I’ve been surprised by the novel, cutting-edge research questions I have addressed since I have joined the Law Library of Congress. Not only do we respond to inquiries from Congress, government agencies, the judiciary, and the public, we also monitor legal developments around the world. My work is primarily focused on international law and global trends.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

I have always loved researching, writing, and questioning everything about the world. The Law Library is a great place to investigate international legal issues as well as to work with other people who are similarly inquisitive, all of whom have much more exciting backgrounds than I do.

What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

Prior to joining the Law Library of Congress, I had no idea of the international scope of the Library’s collections. The Library of Congress maintains offices in multiple countries and the collections contain materials in almost 500 languages! This is among many fascinating facts about the Library of Congress, and the Law Library in particular.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

Given how much junk food I eat in the office, I think my co-workers would be quite surprised to know that I love to cook! I have taken cooking classes in Thailand and Italy (two of my favorite types of foods), where I learned really useful techniques and inspiration for my own cooking.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Rare Book Video – The Trial of Vice President Aaron Burr

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 10/28/2019 - 8:30am

Our latest rare book video features the trial of Aaron Burr. This item is held by the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.

Categories: Research & Litigation


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