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Research & Litigation

Happy Fourth of July – What Did the British Think about the Declaration of Independence?

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 12:00pm

This post is coauthored by Nathan Dorn, rare book curator, and Robert Brammer, chief of the Office of External Relations

The Fourth of July is a perfect time to read the Declaration of Independence that not only heralded the American Revolution, but also provided the most powerful and enduring formulation of the American aspirations for freedom and equality. Take a moment to visit the Library’s Declaration of Independence web guide, and explore Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration at the Library of Congress.

But, you might ask yourself, what did the British think of the Declaration at the time? Not a whole lot. In the British press, the publications that discussed the Declaration generally reacted with contempt toward the ideology expressed by its preamble, and anger at the ingratitude showed by the colonists toward their king. Some voices expressed sympathy. There are two responses in particular that are worth highlighting.

The first is King George III’s brief response written by Lord North. The reply scolds Americans for their Declaration of Independence, and is more or less a call for Americans to go to back to their rooms and think about what they’ve done, lest they suffer the consequences.

The most entertaining response comes from the famous Utilitarian philospher, Jeremy Bentham. Bentham ghostwrote a section by section rejoinder to the Declaration in John Lind’s Answer to the Declaration of the American Congress.

Even if you haven’t read the Declaration in a while, no doubt you’ll recall from memory the preamble where Jefferson writes that,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

So what did Bentham think of these stirring words?

Of the preamble I have taken little or no notice. The truth is, little or none does it deserve. The opinions of the modern Americans on Government, like those of their good ancestors on witchcraft, would be too ridiculous to deserve any notice, if like them too, contemptible and extravagant as they be, they had not led to the most serious evils.

You can read the entirety of Bentham’s response here. It concludes,

How this Declaration may strike others, I know not. To me, I own, it appears that it cannot fail — to use the words of a great Orator— “of doing us Knight’s service.” The mouth of faction, we may reasonably presume, will be closed; the eyes of those who saw not, or would not see, that the Americans were long since aspiring at independence, will be opened; the nation will unite as one man, and teach this rebellious people, that it is one thing for them to say, the connection, which bound them to us, is dissolved, another to dissolve it; that to accomplish their independence is not quite so easy as to declare it: that there is no peace with them, but the peace of the King: no war with them, but that war, which offended justice wages against criminals. — We too, I hope, shall acquiesce in the necessity of submitting to whatever burdens, of making whatever efforts may be necessary, to bring this ungrateful and rebellious people back to that allegiance they have long had it in contemplation to renounce, and have now at last so daringly renounced.

Bentham’s views on the United States independence later softened, though he continued to reject the claim of natural rights that underpin the Declaration. Oddly enough, you can visit Jeremy Bentham. After Bentham died, he requested that his body be turned into an auto-icon: his skeleton was dressed in his clothes, a wax head was added, and then this figure was put on display at the University College London. This has led to a myth that he is wheeled out Weekend at Bernie’s style to attend meetings of College Council. While Bentham’s auto-icon is permanently on display in London, he actually went on tour in 2018, visiting the rebellious colonies he once chastised, when Bentham was placed on display at the Met Breuer museum in New York City.

The auto-icon of Jeremy Bentham at University College London. Photo by Robert Brammer.


Categories: Research & Litigation

Celebrating Independence Day

Law Library of Congress: Research Reports - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 10:00am


I hope that you are doing well. As we enter into July, it is hard to believe the many changes and challenges we’ve had to face in our world in just the past few months. The upcoming July 4th holiday is another reminder of the ways we’ve all had to adjust and rework communal celebrations and gatherings in the age of COVID-19.

Many of you have celebrated birthdays and graduations virtually, and have come up with creative ways to stay in touch with family and friends from a distance. The Library of Congress is no different, and we continue to adapt to stay connected with you even as our doors remain closed. This is especially important as we strive to offer a safe place to have difficult conversations about the challenges facing our nation today with regard to race, inequality and social justice.

To that end, below you will find information on some of our upcoming virtual events including today’s conversation with new Kluge Prize winner, Danielle Allen, who will take on the hard questions about democracy and public life. Our online series, “Hear You, Hear Me”: Conversations on Race in America, also continues this month.

You can also learn more about the major collections work we are undertaking to document the pandemic in an informative new blog post, “How Will We Remember COVID-19?”

And, as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, it must be noted that the Library of Congress is home to the original rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. It is one of the institution’s top treasures. View it online here,, and discover other resources related to our nation’s independence below.

Have a safe holiday weekend.

Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress

[Detail] Currier & Ives print showing the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Independence Day

American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence: Primary Documents in American History

American Revolution: A Resource Guide

Thomas Jefferson Papers Collection

TODAY: Kluge Prize Winner Danielle Allen

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced last week that Danielle Allen, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, will receive the 2020 John W. Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity. Allen will work with the Library to share her expertise on justice, citizenship and democracy with a wide audience.

Today at 7 p.m. ET join Allen and Kluge Center Director John Haskell for a virtual event: “Danielle Allen Takes on the Hard Questions about Democracy and Public Life.” This presentation will premiere with closed captions on both the Library's Facebook page and the Library's YouTube site and be available afterwards on the Library's video page.

Kluge Prize Announcement:

Homegrown at Home Concert Series

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is presenting traditional music and dance from a variety of folk cultures thriving in the United States and around the world in a new online concert series each Wednesday through September. Tune in to “Homegrown at Home” Wednesdays at noon ET on the American Folklife Center Facebook page, and replay performances anytime on the Library of Congress YouTube channel and on the Library's video page.

Series info & schedule:

"Hear You, Hear Me": Conversations on Race in America

This online series continues featuring Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in conversation with some of the nation’s great literary figures, and will highlight what poetry and literature can offer the nation as it contends with foundational issues of social justice.

  • Joy Harjo and Tracy K. Smith - Thursday, July 9, 2020, 7-8 p.m. ET
  • Colson Whitehead - Thursday, July 16, 2020, 7-8 p.m. ET

Event details & videos:

[Detail] Life during the pandemic. Photo: Camilo Vergara. Prints and Photographs Division.

How Will We Remember COVID-19?

The Library is amassing a vast collection of materials that document the COVID-19 pandemic, including the award-winning photography of Camilo Vergara. These photographs are among the very first items the Library acquired documenting the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. And they will be far from the last: The Library anticipates a collecting effort that exceeds its coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — which was huge.

Read the full blog post:

Support the Library

We are more grateful than ever for all that you do to keep us strong. Whether you support the Library with a gift or simply by spreading the word about what we do, you help us in our mission to connect millions of people around the world with the stories of our collective past, present, and future.

If you haven't yet had a chance to give and you're in a position to donate, please consider making a gift at


Categories: Research & Litigation

Cooking with Congress: Senator Margaret Chase Smith’s Recipes from Maine

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 9:30am

During this time of physical distancing and stay-at-home recommendations, presumably like many of our readers, I have been cooking at home almost exclusively. I love cooking, but after a couple months of teleworking, I grew bored with making the same recipes on loop. For inspiration, I went through my cook book collection and stumbled across a book that my grandparents gave me years ago titled The Congressional Club Cook Book. The book not only gives an interesting insight into food culture in America in the 1960s (countless Jell-O salads), but is also an opportunity to learn about the Congressional Club and former government officials.

The Congressional Club Cook Book. The Congressional Club. Published in 1970. Photo by Anna Price.

The Congressional Club was founded in 1908, with the goal of building a network for socializing and friendships among spouses of senators and representatives. The organization still exists today, although it is now referred to as The Congressional Club Museum and Foundation. According to its website, “the Club’s primary focus has shifted to serving its community and the Nation with not-for-profit partners. Together with its partners, the Club supports causes across the country with a particular focus on entities that support members of our military and their families.” The organization also publishes the above cookbook, which primarily contains recipes submitted by spouses of representatives, senators, presidents, Supreme Court justices, and ambassadors. The Congressional Club continues to print updated editions of The Congressional Club Cook Book, many of which are held in the Library of Congress’s collections.

Congressional Club. Photograph. Published between 1910 and 1920. Harris & Ewing, photographer. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. //

While skimming the index of contributors, I came across one of the few female elected officials listed in my edition of the book, Margaret Chase Smith. Smith served terms in both the House and Senate between 1940 and 1973, representing Maine. She was the first woman from Maine to serve in Congress, and the first woman to win elections for seats in both chambers of Congress. Smith also ran for president in 1964 and was the first woman to have her name listed for presidential nomination by a major political party.

Margaret Chase Smith. Published in 1943. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. //

The Congressional Club Cook Book. The Congressional Club. Published in 1970, pages 62 and 155. Photo by Anna Price.

In addition to her impressive background, Smith is remembered for a speech she gave on the Senate floor that is referred to as “A Declaration of Conscience.” In that speech (beginning on page 7894), she spoke about free speech principles, including: “The right to criticize. The right to hold unpopular beliefs. The right to protest. The right of independent thought.” To commemorate Smith’s speech, a Senate resolution designated June 1, 2010, the 60th anniversary of the speech, as “Declaration of Conscience Day.” Smith passed away in 1995. In her home state of Maine, a congressional research library, federal building, and commuter ferry are named after her.

In learning about Smith it became evident that she was proud of her home state, and that is reflected in her recipes, which included a lobster dish and “Maine Baked Beans.” Smith’s other contributions to the book included recipes for French salad dressing and a lime and cucumber gelatin salad.

I hope this post inspires an interest in both congressional history and trying new recipes!

Categories: Research & Litigation

Oresund Bridge Turns 20 Years Old

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 07/01/2020 - 3:32pm

On this day 20 years ago, Denmark and Sweden inaugurated the Oresund Bridge (Danish: Øresundsbroen, Swedish: Öresundsbron). The bridge is almost 8 km (about 5 miles) long and, together with a 4 km (2.5 mile) long tunnel and a large, 1.3 km square man-made island, connects the Copenhagen region of Denmark with the Malmö region of Sweden. A contract (available in Prop. 1990/91:158 at 27) was signed between the two countries in 1991, and in 1995 the building began. Globally it may be most famously known from the TV-series the Bridge (Broen), where cross-border and cross-jurisdictional issues were presented by a woman found dead on the middle of the bridge.

Oresund Bridge, as seen traveling by car. Photo by Elin Hofverberg.

History of the Oresund Region

The Bridge connects the two countries across the seemingly natural land barrier of Oresund strait. Here, private boats once carried Jews from occupied Denmark to neutral Sweden during World War II. But the history of the strait goes back even further. The battle for the strait was hard-won. In fact, Swedish Skåne (also known as Scania) was part of Denmark until 1658, when it became part of Sweden as part of the Treaty of Roskilde.

For hundreds of years the strait was also heavily taxed, in the form of a “Sound Fee” or “Sound Toll” (Øresundstolden). The Danish King Erik of Pomernia initiated the tolls in the 1400s. In fact, the creation of Göta Canal was in part envisioned because of the strait. By connecting the port of Gothenburg with the port of Stockholm via a domestic canal, the Swedes could avoid the tolls paid to the Danes for passing through the Danish controlled strait. The Sound Fees were abolished in 1857, but the old documents have been preserved in a digital format in The Soundtoll Registers Online, which includes a list of products in different languages.

The Oresund Area Today

Today, the strait is still associated with fees or road tolls paid to finance the building of the bridge and its maintenance. But the tolls are not as hefty and have not hampered transportation. Products move freely between the two countries, and, until recently, the only official controls conducted at the bridge were done to ensure that Swedes were not bringing in too a great quantity of alcohol from (lower taxed) Denmark. However, differences in alcohol tax are not the only difference in policy on the two sides of the strait. In 2015, Denmark and Sweden took sharply different approaches to the refugee crisis, resulting in the imposition of Swedish ID-controls at the border.

View from traveling across Oresund Bridge by train, somewhere between Sweden and Denmark. Photo by Elin Hofverberg.

On a normal day thousands of people cross the bridge, which takes 10 minutes by car or 30 minutes by train. But these are not normal times, and the Swedes and Danes are divided once more, this time in their response to COVID-19. Denmark was quick to close its borders to contain the spread of COVID-19. The Swedish borders meanwhile remained open to all European Union (EU) member (and Schengen) states. Reports have claimed that some EU citizens have headed there to have their hair done. When Denmark opened its borders, it originally did not welcome Swedes, then it made exceptions for Swedes from southern Sweden (Skåne, Halland, and Blekinge). As of today, July 1, 2020, Swedes coming to Denmark from southern Sweden as tourists must show a certificate of a negative COVID-19 test .

Even without the pandemic to account for, both Denmark and Sweden, at present, still maintain border controls between their two countries unrelated to COVID-19. Although the Schengen Area allows border-free travel, Sweden and Denmark have used its exceptions to maintain border controls across their respective borders. Sweden cites terrorist threats and shortcomings at the external border, and Denmark cites terrorist threats and organized criminality in Sweden.

In a few weeks, the Oresund region has another milestone to celebrate. It will be 100 years since Robert Svendsen, on July 17, 1910, was the first person to cross the Oresund strait in an airplane.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Legal Research Reports: Regulating Electronic Means to Fight the Spread of COVID-19

Law Library of Congress: Research Reports - Wed, 07/01/2020 - 10:00am

The Law Library of Congress is proud to present the report, Regulating Electronic Means to Fight the Spread of COVID-19

Countries have to find ways to control and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in order to break the chain of human-to-human transmission, such as case identification, isolation, testing, contact tracing, quarantine, and location tracking. Many governments have turned to electronic measures to provide information to individuals about the COVID-19 pandemic, check symptoms, trace contacts and alert persons who have been in proximity to an infected person, identify “hot spots,” and track compliance with confinement measures and stay-at-home orders. Most of the surveyed jurisdictions have developed one or several dedicated coronavirus apps with different functionalities, such as general information and advice about COVID-19, symptom checkers, and contact tracing and warning. This report surveys the regulation of electronic means to fight the spread of this infectious disease in 23 selected jurisdictions around the globe. 

This report is one of 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

From the Serial Set: Pride in the Face of Prejudice

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 06/30/2020 - 8:30am

June commemorates LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+) Pride Month, recognizing the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising on June 28, 1969, which symbolizes the LGBTQ+ rights movement. In the decade prior, before Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie gained recognition for their activism, Frank Kameny’s LGBTQ+ activist work grew out of the period of American history known as the “Lavender Scare.”

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the fear of communism, known colloquially as the “Red Scare” or “McCarthyism,” gripped the United States. The subsequent investigation by the federal government into the lives of its LGBTQ+employees, known as the Lavender Scare, began in the late 1940s.

In 1950, S. Res. 280 of the 81st Congress, 2nd Session (private law), authorized the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Expenditures in the Executive Departments (now the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs) to conduct an unprecedented “investigation on a Government-wide scale of homosexuality and other sex perversion” (S. Doc. 241, 81st Cong., 2d Sess., at 1 (1950) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 11401). This document, along with other declassified Congressional documents, can be found in the United States Congressional Serial Set, which the Law Library continues to digitize for public access.

Image from Adkins, Judith. “These People are Frightened to Death”: Congressional Investigations and the Lavender Scare. Summer 2016, Vol. 48, No. 2.

The subcommittee acknowledged at the outset of the investigation that “reliable, factual information on the subject of homosexuality and sex perversion [was] somewhat limited.” Despite this, homosexuality was considered a felony in all 50 states at the time, and as the report further states: “The criminal courts and the police have had considerable experience in the handling of sex perverts as law violators, but the subject as a personnel problem until very recently has received little attention from Government administrators and personnel officers” (S. Doc. 241, 81st Cong., 2d Sess., at 1 (1950) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 11401).

Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 28 April 1950. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

With this, the subcommittee claimed that “homosexuals and other sex perverts are not proper persons to be employed in Government for two reasons; first, they are generally unsuitable, and second, they constitute security risks” (S. Doc. 241, 81st Cong., 2d Sess., at 3 (1950) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 11401).

Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 20 May 1950. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

A perceived “security risk” was considered to be susceptibility “to the blandishments of the foreign espionage agent” (S. Doc. 241, 81st Cong., 2d Sess., at 5 (1950) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 11401). As acts of homosexuality were outlawed at the time, many LGBTQ+ individuals were victimized by acts of blackmail, threatening to expose the lives they were forced to live in secret, and thus did not report these injustices to the police. The Subcommittee argued that the LGBTQ+ community would be “easy prey,” citing instances where “Nazi and Communist agents have attempted to obtain information from [federal] employees…by threatening to expose their abnormal sex activities” (S. Doc. 241, 81st Cong., 2d Sess., at 5 (1950) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 11401).

Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.), 25 May 1950. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <>

Dr. Eric Cervini discussed his new book, The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America, with the Library’s Chief Communications Officer, Roswell Encina, on Thursday, May 28, 2020. His work chronicles the experience of astronomer Frank Kameny. Kameny, a gay man, was targeted during the Lavender Scare and fired from his federal position at the Army Map Service. Afterwards, he co-founded the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Mattachine Society, an LGBTQ+ activist group. His legacy as an activist is reflected in the Library’s Kameny Papers collection.

Map for Pride Power ’94, a 10 day festival of pride & spirit, New York. 1994. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Similar movements garnered momentum over the next 50 years, continuing the struggle for LGBTQ+ civil rights. In the early 2000s, two landmark Supreme Court decisions defended the rights of same sex-couples under the Fourteenth Amendment. Lingering state sodomy laws were invalidated in the 2003 Lawrence v. Kansas decision, and the right to marry was guaranteed to same-sex couples as a result of the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision. As of June 15th, 2020, the Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia decision ruled that Article VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination on the basis of sex, extends to gender and sexual orientation. This case also ruled in favor of late plaintiffs Aimee Stephens (R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), a transgender woman, and Donald Zarda (Altitude Express v. Zarda) a gay man, who were both fired on the grounds of their gender and sexual orientation, respectively.

The Law Library also collects multilingual resources on the subject of LGBTQ+ rights worldwide. Recent acquisitions, including LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights: in human rights perspectives, Unioni civili e genitorialità: le nuove frontiere della giurisprudenza: interesse del minore e genitorialità same sex, and La primavera rosa: identidad cultural y derechos LGBTI en el mundo, demonstrate the ongoing importance of legal protection and representation for the LGBTQ+ community.

Categories: Research & Litigation

From the Legal Report Archive: Bribery and Corruption Laws in Certain Middle Eastern Countries

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 06/26/2020 - 8:33am

The following is a guest post by John Al Saddy, legal research fellow at the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress.

A Compilation of Bribery and Extortion Laws in OPIC [Overseas Private Investment Corporation] Countries. Washington, D.C.: Law Library of Congress, 1976.

Last month, the Law Library released an additional 250 digitized historical reports, many of which were previously unavailable to the public. These reports, in addition to those released in March 2020, are now available in the Publications of the Law Library of Congress collection. I recently reviewed the second batch of digitized reports published through the online collection. Because of my past experience working on anti-corruption issues in the Middle East, one particular topic caught my attention: the analysis of bribery and corrupt practices legislation in certain Middle Eastern countries.

Currently, most countries in the Middle East do not have dedicated anti-corruption codes. However, in recent decades, there has been increased interest in addressing bribery and corrupt practices. Many countries have created national anti-corruption national strategies to address the challenges presented by widespread corruption.

The following is a brief overview of the crime of bribery and other corrupt activities laws in certain Middle Eastern countries as described in two historical Law Library reports now available in the online collection:

I have referenced the laws currently in force along with highlights of some unique features of the laws of each jurisdiction.

Anti-corruption provisions are included in several Egyptian laws. Bribery as a criminal act is covered by articles 103 through 111 of Law No. 58 of 1937, the Penal Code of Egypt as amended, in the section on Crimes against the Internal Security of the State. (See Bribery and Other Corrupt Practices p. 26.) The law also contains provisions related to the theft and destruction of public funds. We can also find articles that target bribery in the Public Tenders Law, Law No. 9 of 1983.

Bribery provisions are included in the Jordanian Criminal Code, Law No. 16 of 1960, under the section on Crimes against Official Duties. (See A Compilation of Bribery and Extortion Laws in OPIC Countries pp. 49-50.)  Article 170 prescribes a relatively light sentence of imprisonment for six months to two years for public officials who accept a gift or benefit as a bribe.

Iran’s first anticorruption law was enacted in 1925. (See Bribery and Other Corrupt Practices pp. 57-59.) In 1936, the Law on Exerting Undue Influence was passed. For the crime of undue influence, the law prescribes a punishment of six months to two years and the return of the acquired profit. (See Bribery and Other Corrupt Practices p. 58.) The most recent legislation to deal with bribery (as of the time this report was published in October 1995) was an all-embracing anti-bribery law passed in December 1988. (See Bribery and Other Corrupt Practices p. 58.) Articles 588–596 of Book 5, Chapter 11, Bribery, Usury and Fraud, of the Islamic Penal Code of Iran, enacted on May 22, 1996, address bribery crimes and prescribe punishments. (Book 5 was not subject to the 2012 amendments and 2013 revision of the Penal Code, according to the version published by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, dated July 15, 2013.)

The Penal Code of 1960 includes provisions on bribery and corrupt practices of public officials, covered in articles 114-125. Law No. 31 of 1970 amended provisions of the Penal Code concerning bribery to harden the penalties for such crimes addressed by the old law. (See Bribery and Corrupt Practices pp. 74-76.)

Punishments for the crime of bribery are described under the Corruption and Exercise of Influence section of the Criminal Code of Morocco, Ordinance No. 1-59-413 of 1962. Article 251 contains a notable mention of violence and threats within the overall meaning of bribery. (See A Compilation of Bribery and Extortion Laws in OPIC Countries pp. 61-62.)

Saudi Arabia
Saudi anti-bribery legislation, the Royal Decree for Combating Bribery, Decree No. 15 of 1962, is broadly based on bribery-related articles of the Egyptian Criminal Code. (See A Compilation of Bribery and Extortion Laws in OPIC Countries pp. 107-110.) The Decree targets public servants as well as private persons who seek to bribe government officials. Article 1 stipulates that accepting or requesting a gift or promise, “even though it is a lawful act,” is considered corruption on the part of a public official. Royal Decree M/36 dated 29/12/1412H, corresponding to 27/6/1992G, is the current legislation that addresses bribery crimes.

Decree of 1913, the Penal Code of Tunisia, is based on French legislation. (See Bribery and Other Corrupt Practices pp. 104-105.) The law defers to the courts to establish definitions of bribery and corrupt practices. However, the Code clarifies the meaning of the term “public official” as including persons who try to bribe or illegally influence public officials. Article 87 includes an interesting provision regarding a “public or similar official who brags that he has influence and good connection with another official,” prescribing a punishment of five years of imprisonment for such an official. The current Tunisian Penal Code governs bribery crimes in chapters 83-94.

Bribery articles are included in Yemeni Law No. 22 of 1963, the Law Concerning Crimes against Public Authority. (See A Compilation of Bribery and Extortion Laws in OPIC Countries pp. 133-135.) In matters dealing with the intermediary in the bribery, article 59 punishes the person who offers a bribe and the intermediary with the same penalty imposed on the bribed individual. Current legislation, the Republican Decree for Law No. 12 for the Year 1994, Concerning Crimes and Penalties, contains bribery provisions in articles 151-161.

Categories: Research & Litigation

The Battle of Greasy Grass

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 06/25/2020 - 9:36am

The Battle of Greasy Grass, June 25-26, 1876, also known as The Battle of Little Bighorn and Custer’s Last Stand, marks a great victory for the Oceti Sakowin people. The battle’s roots started with the Report on the Condition of the Indian Tribes (1867); after the report was issued, “the  United States government set out to establish a series of Indian treaties that would force the Indians to give up their lands and move further west onto reservations.” One of these treaties was the (second) Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868, which the Oceti Sakowin people signed with the United States government. The treaty “allowed the United States to build its railroad along the Platte … but it set apart a distance territory for Lakota’s ‘absolute and undisturbed use and occupation.’ This was the Great Sioux Reservation that encompassed all the lands west of the Missouri across the Black Hills and extended about two hundred miles from south to north to include the vitally import White, Bad, Cheyenne, Moreau, and Grand Rivers” (Hämäläinen, 290). More importantly, “Article 16 designated the lands east of the Bighorn Mountains and north of the North Platte as “unceded Indian territory” where “no white person or persons” could settle (Id).”

Six years later, Gen. George Armstrong Custer, who had great career ambitions and was “reinventing himself as an Indian fighter”, found gold in the sacred Black Hills. In 1875, “a five-month scientific expedition was sent to confirm Custer’s report. This expedition, too, found gold, and in 1876, the gold rush to the Black Hills began.”

The promise of gold was one of the factors that led the U.S. government to attempt “the utter destruction of the Indian village, and overthrow of Sioux power will be the certain result” (Hämäläinen, 364). Custer was supposed to drive the 7th Cavalry, with 750 soldiers and 31 Arikara and Crow scouts, along the Rosebud and go west along a trail created by the Lakota and Cheyenne and others and push them towards General Alfred Terry, who was coming from the north, expecting to drive them into a two-arm pincer from which the Indigenous soldiers could not escape (Hämäläinen, 363).

However, the Lakota had been working to lead the U.S. soldiers to the Greasy Grass, a tributary of the Little Bighorn River, and were preparing for battle, as they knew the U.S. soldiers were doing. Sitting Bull, a holy man, statesman and warrior of the Hunkpapa Lakota, had been praying in the days prior to the battle, and had a vision in which he saw soldiers falling like grasshoppers; a voice said to him, “I give these to you because they have no ears.”

Sitting Bull and nephew, One Bull (1884) [Palmquist & Jurgens, photographer, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division], Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division]

The U.S. soldiers gave themselves away with a dust cloud rising up as they approached the Greasy Grass encampment. The Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors were quickly ready. Crazy Horse led as many as 1,000 warriors to flank Custer’s forces. Sitting Bull was older, so he sent his nephews White Bull and One Bull to fight; One Bull, Black Moon, and Big Road led charges; Inkpaduta and Gall took key actions as well (Hämäläinen, 365). The Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors routed U.S. troops; 268 U.S. soldiers were killed, including Custer and all of the personnel in the five-company battalion under his immediate command. It’s difficult to say how many Indigenous people died; the most commonly cited figure is 100 men and women. The battle is remembered as a day of victory by their descendants.

Spotted Tail said, “This war was brought upon us by the children of the Great Father who came to take our land from us without price.” Greasy Grass was the firm response to that attempt. It was a watershed moment in the history of Indigenous-U.S. relations, and the first time, but not the last, that the still-in-force Treaty of Fort Laramie was tested; both the treaty and the battle have a long reach that is still shaping policy conversations, decisions, and battles today.


Hämäläinen, Pekka. Lakota America: a New History of Indigenous Power.

Treaty between the United States of America and different tribes of Sioux Indians : concluded April 29, et. seq., 1868 ; ratification advised February 16, 1869 ; proclaimed February 24, 1869.

Map of a reconnaissance of the Black Hills, July and August, 1874, with troops under command of Lt. Col. G.A. Custer, 7th Cavalry.


Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Jessica Craig, Junior Fellow

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 06/23/2020 - 8:30am

The following is an interview with Jessica Craig, a junior fellow in the Digital Resources Division of the Law Library of Congress. 

Describe your background:

I have lived in the Southern Californian city of Camarillo all my life, which is located equally between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. I am a first-generation college graduate and the youngest of my family. As a student, I spend most of my time studying, but whenever I find the time, I try to do something creative. My interests are mostly centered around art, whether it’s learning it, practicing it, or just admiring it!

Jessica Craig, a Junior Fellow at the Law Library of Congress. Photo courtesy of Jessica Craig.

What is your academic/professional history?

This month I am finishing my first year of graduate study at UCLA where I am pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science degree and completing a digital humanities graduate certificate program. In my current studies, I am focusing on the intersection of informatics and archival work. Just back in 2019, I earned my bachelor’s degree in art history at California State University Channel Islands. My library career path started at the Camarillo Public Library and from then on I’ve held positions at the UCLA Arts Library, UCLA Information Studies Research Lab, and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

How would you describe your job to other people?

While I am working on multiple and varied projects, my overall job is to enhance the user experience of the Law Library’s online collections and resources. It requires working with metadata, reorganizing and redisplaying content, paying attention to detail, and a surprising amount of creativity. My primary project focuses on the web design and usability of the Law Library’s online collection of legal research reports. My goal is to redevelop the webpages so that any user, whether they are a beginner or expert in legal research, can smoothly navigate them and find what they are looking for.

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

The active initiatives promoted by the Library of Congress relate very much to my personal and professional interests. I was confident that serving as a Junior Fellow would allow me to develop my skills, strengthen my understanding of library practices, and equip me with valuable hands-on experience within the Library and Information Science field. I also knew that working with the people at the Library would be a wonderful experience, as I could learn from their expertise and benefit from their great mentorship.

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

As someone without a law background, so much is new to me at the Law Library of Congress. I have learned a great amount, especially about the wide international scope of the collections. But the most interesting fact is that the Law Library is open whenever either chamber of Congress is in session. This means that law librarians are available during congressional meetings regardless of the time of day or night, weekends, or holidays. It goes to show how truly dedicated law librarians are to their work!

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

I love playing and watching trivia games! Many of my days end with watching a trivia show. It is on my bucket list to make it onto Jeopardy! one day.

Categories: Research & Litigation

The Bound Edition of the Congressional Record for the 103rd Congress is Now Available on

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 06/22/2020 - 4:48pm

The Congressional Record on provides a detailed account of the debates and proceedings of Congress, and is a helpful source for conducting research on the legislative history of a piece of legislation. Until now, the Congressional Record on has consisted exclusively of the Daily Edition of the Record. There is another version of the Congressional Record called the Bound Edition. The Bound Edition of the Congressional Record is created at the end of a session of Congress. The Government Publishing Office explains that it collects the Daily Editions and

re-paginates, and re-indexes them into a permanent, bound edition. This permanent edition, referred to as the Congressional Record (Bound Edition), is made up of one volume per session of Congress, with each volume published in multiple parts, each part containing approximately 10 to 20 days of Congressional proceedings. The primary ways in which the bound edition differs from the daily edition are continuous pagination; somewhat edited, revised, and rearranged text; and the dropping of the prefixes H, S, and E before page numbers.

The Bound Edition of the Congressional Record is now available for the 103rd Congress on

In an effort to make older editions of the Congressional Record available to the public, we have now added the Bound Edition of the Congressional Record for the 103rd Congress, which covers the years 1993 and 1994. You can access it by using the date picker on the Congressional Record page and selecting the year 1993 or 1994. You can also perform a search from the global search bar by selecting “Congressional Record” in the drop-down menu, then click on the Congressional Record Edition filter on the left and select “Bound Edition.” This launch includes the Senate, House, and Extensions of Remarks sections. The Daily Digest section, which provides a summary of the daily proceedings in Congress, is not yet available in this release. We hope this addition is helpful to your research and look forward to hearing your feedback. We plan to add more Bound Editions of the Congressional Record in the future.

This is an example of a page from the Bound Congressional Record on


Categories: Research & Litigation

Celebrating Juneteenth & More

Law Library of Congress: Research Reports - Fri, 06/19/2020 - 10:31am


Today is Juneteenth, thought to be the longest running celebration of the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, notice of the Emancipation Proclamation freeing enslaved people finally reached Texas through an order read aloud by Union General Gordon Grange in Galveston. The word arrived a whopping two and a half years late. Abraham Lincoln’s initial draft of the Emancipation Proclamation is among the treasures contained in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress, and is viewable online here.

In fact, the Library plays host to a wealth of resources and materials related to the emancipation holiday and its celebration throughout American history, as well to the practice of slavery itself and to the voices of formerly enslaved people. Below you will find a list of new blog posts from throughout the Library highlighting a few such resources, including audio recordings from our poignant collection, “Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories.” Other materials are being shared on our social media accounts throughout the day.

This year’s Juneteenth celebrations have special significance and poignancy in today’s climate where issues of racial injustice are again at the forefront. Today at 4 p.m. ET, I am hosting a virtual conversation with current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds and former National Ambassador Jacqueline Woodson about ways to hear and support kids during a period of nationwide protest against injustice. This event is part of our new online series "Hear You, Hear Me: Conversations on Race in America," which you can also learn more about below. You can watch it on our Facebook page, our YouTube channel or on our main website at I hope to “see” you there.

Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress

Juneteenth-Related Posts from Across the Library's Blogs

The Birth of Juneteenth; Voices of the Enslaved​

Ralph Ellison’s “Juneteenth"​

Born in Slavery: Portraits and Narratives of Formerly Enslaved People

Becky Elzy and Alberta Bradford: Spiritual Folklorists

When a Former Enslaved Person Debated a Former Confederate in the House of Representatives

“Hear You, Hear Me”: Conversations on Race in America

This new online series features Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in conversation with some of the nation’s great literary figures, and will highlight what poetry and literature can offer the nation as it contends with foundational issues of social justice.

  • Jason Reynolds and Jacqueline Woodson: TODAY, June 19, 4-5 p.m. ET
  • Joy Harjo and Tracy K. Smith: Thursday, July 9, 7-8 p.m. ET
  • Colson Whitehead: Thursday, July 16, 7-8 p.m. ET

All of the conversations will be available for viewing after the launch.

Event details:

The Boccaccio Project: Concerts in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Watch as the Library premieres as series of 10 commissions of new music from composers across America in The Boccaccio Project, inspired by a similar literary effort in the mid-14th century by Giovanni Boccaccio.

Watch as each concert premieres nightly at 8 p.m.June 15-26, or watch the full series:

Latest LCM Commemorates the End of World War II

In the new issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, we commemorate the 75th anniversary of end of World War II and the service of the men and women who fought in that conflict.

Features include:

  • a one-of-a-kind map, made by Japanese pilots that detailed the damage inflicted at Pearl Harbor
  • Manuscript Division collections that preserve photos taken in the field by Gen. George S. Patton
  • commentary by Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Atkinson on a war whose consequences continue to unspool more than seven decades later

... and more. Download your copy today:

Save the Date! The 2020 National Book Festival is Going Virtual

The 20th Library of Congress National Book Festival will celebrate “American Ingenuity” in 2020, featuring the creativity and inspiration of some of the nation’s most gifted authors in a reimagined virtual festival the weekend of Sept. 25-27. The festival is part of the Library’s 220th anniversary year, and more details will be announced at a later date.

June Is LGBTQ Pride Month

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month and June 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of annual LGBTQ+ Pride traditions. The first Pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970 on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Primary sources available at the Library of Congress provide detailed information about how this first Pride march was planned, and the reasons why activists felt so strongly that it should exist.

Support the Library

We are more grateful than ever for all that you do to keep us strong. Whether you support the Library with a gift or simply by spreading the word about what we do, you help us in our mission to connect millions of people around the world with the stories of our collective past, present, and future.

If you haven't yet had a chance to give and you're in a position to donate, please consider making a gift at


Categories: Research & Litigation

When a Former Enslaved Person Debated a Former Confederate in the House of Representatives

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 06/19/2020 - 8:00am

We previously featured a post on Hiram Revels, the first African American member of the United States Senate. Today’s post focuses on another member of the group of African American legislators who arrived to Congress during the Reconstruction period, Representative Josiah Walls, who served in the 42nd, 43rd, and 44th Congresses.

Hon. Josiah Thomas Walls of Florida. Photograph. Published between 1860-1875. Brady-Handy Photograph Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Josiah Walls was born into slavery in Winchester, Virginia, on December 30, 1842. During the Civil War, he was forced to become a servant to a Confederate artilleryman. In May of 1862, he was captured by the Union and emancipated. He briefly attended the Normal School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and then joined the United States Colored Troops 3rd Infantry Regiment in 1863. He was initially stationed in Philadelphia, but in 1864 his regiment moved to Northern Florida. Walls later transferred to the 35th Regiment, in which he served as a first sergeant and artillery instructor. After the conclusion of the Civil War, he remained in Florida, married Helen Fergueson, and had one daughter, Nellie.

Walls worked at a sawmill and as a teacher in the Freedmen’s Bureau to save enough money to purchase a 60 acre farm, and also began to cultivate an interest in politics. He served as a delegate for Alachua County to the 1868 Florida Constitutional Convention, and shortly thereafter was elected to the Florida State House of Representatives, as well as the Florida State Senate.

In 1870, Walls was nominated by the Republican party as a candidate to represent Florida in the United States House of Representatives. Walls’ opponent was Silas Niblack, a former slave owner and Confederate veteran, who claimed that Walls lacked the education needed to serve in Congress. Walls responded to his opponent’s criticism by challenging Niblack to a debate and engaging in a public speaking tour of Northern Florida. At one event in Gainesville, Walls was nearly struck by a bullet.

Walls prevailed in the election, and during his tenure in Congress, he advocated for internal improvements in Florida, pensions for war veterans, and a national system of education financed through the sale of public lands. Walls’ passion for education is evident in the debate copied below, where Walls debates Representative Archibald MacIntyre of Georgia, a former Confederate officer, over a proposal to create a national system of education.

Congressional Globe, 42nd Congress, 2nd Session, February 3rd, 1872, page 808. If you click on the image, you can download a high quality tiff file. 

Congressional Globe, 42nd Congress, 2nd Session, February 3rd, 1872, page 809. If you click on the image, you can download a high quality tiff file. 

Congressional Globe, 42nd Congress, 2nd Session, February 3rd, 1872, page 810. If you click on the image, you can download a high quality tiff file. 

Two years into Walls’ term of office, Niblack successfully challenged the election results in the House Committee on Elections, claiming some Democratic ballots had been illegally rejected (see page 106 of Hind’s Precedents). As a result, Walls lost his seat. Nevertheless, Walls was re-elected to the House of Representatives in the 43rd Congress.

After the conclusion of the 43rd Congress, Walls purchased a Gainesville newspaper that he used to campaign for his election to the 44th Congress against Jesse Finley (see page 124 of Hind’s Precedents). Walls defeated Finley, but Finley successfully challenged the election results in the House Committee on Elections, so Walls once against lost his seat.

Walls successfully stood for election to the Florida State Senate again in 1876, but his subsequent efforts in national politics were unsuccessful. After retiring from politics, Walls operated a successful farm, but an 1895 freeze destroyed his crops, so he took a position operating the farm at Florida Normal College (now Florida A&M University). Josiah Walls died in Tallahassee on May 15, 1905, but by that time, he had slipped into obscurity and no Florida newspaper published his obituary. His burial place is unknown.

Source: H.Doc. 108-224 Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007.

Categories: Research & Litigation

From (and Before) the Serial Set: Collecting the American State Papers

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 06/18/2020 - 8:30am

Congressional documents preceding the Serial Set from 1789 to 1817 became the American State Papers. However, these documents were not collected and published until the 1830s, when “[t]he volumes of Congressional documents, [sic] [became] too numerous for easy reference, and we (Congress) [found] a great difficulty in keeping our (the) series perfect.” (H. Doc. no. 35, 22d Cong., 1st Sess., at 5 (1831) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 217.)

Miscellaneous documents otherwise uncategorized from both the House of Representatives and the Senate are contained in the Serial Set. I came across a particular House miscellaneous document from 1859 titled, “Compilation and Publication of the American State Papers.” This document preserves correspondence between Secretary of the Senate Asbury Dickins, Clerk of the House of Representatives James C. Allen, and the publishing duo Gales & Seaton.

Mis. Doc. no. 39, 35th Cong., 2d Sess., at 1 (1859) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 1016

Joseph Gales and William W. Seaton were contracted to carry out the publication of the American State Papers. Also the publishers of The National Intelligencer, Gales’s reporting on the Senate and Seaton’s reporting on the House of Representatives led to their selection as the congressional publishers, a position they held officially from 1819 to 1829. Among their publications were the Annals of Congress and Register of Debates. Being “familiar with [congressional] documents,” their “official position was a guaranty [sic] of their fidelity and for the safe-keeping of the archives of the two Houses to be used in the compilation.” (H. Mis. Doc. no. 39, 35th Cong., 2d Sess., at 2 (1859) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 1016.)

I then discovered that this document is related to “An Act making provision for a subscription to a compilation of Congressional documents.” Passed two decades earlier on March 2, 1831, this Act was further clarified, with its steps tracked, through the documents bound into the Serial Set. After further investigation into the Serial Set, I found an 1831 report of Clerk of the House of Representatives Matthew St. Clair Clarke and Secretary of the Senate Walter Lowrie that details the original guidelines for republication of congressional documents.

H. Doc. no. 35, 22d Cong., 1st Sess., at 1 (1831) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 217

“The great mass of these documents,” the report reads, “were to be found only in the archives of the two Houses. No complete set of them existed in any other place. They were contained in 160 octavo and folio printed volumes, 80 large folio manuscript records, and in some hundred large files of documents.” Because of the unique value of these documents, and in order to prevent a “heap of confusion,” it was asserted that Congress should oversee the selection, preparation, and preservation processes. (H. Doc. no. 35, 22d Cong., 1st Sess., at 2 (1831) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 217.)

What I found especially interesting about these documents was the consideration given to preserving the content. The relevancy of each document was judged individually, meaning there were many that were not retained. Even so, the practice of determining the “intrinsic value” of each individual document meant that these materials were also considered in how they “establish[ed] precedents and elucidat[ed] principles which may be important as references.” (H. Mis. Doc. no. 39, 35th Cong., 2d Sess., at 9 (1859) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 1016.)

Also noteworthy was the initial exclusion of annual reports from federal secretaries of major departments, including the Treasury, Postmaster General, Navy, and Comptroller. The Serial Set, however, documents these annual reports, showing the evolution of these agencies and their initiatives over time. (H. Mis. Doc. no 39, 35th Cong., 2d Sess., at 10 (1859) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 1016.)

Before compilation, a workflow was established to identify duplicates and outline the pathways of communications between the House and the Senate where documents might be similar. Each document approved for publication would then “be critically examined, to ascertain whether it be perfect or complete, embracing every document or paper intended to have been communicated with it, and necessary to present a full view of the subject matter treated.” (H. Mis. Doc. no. 39, 35th Cong., 2d Sess., at 12 (1859) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 1016.)

Documents were then numbered and organized chronologically under their designated headers. The American State Papers were divided into ten subjects: Foreign Relations, Indian Affairs, Finances, Commerce and Navigation, Military Affairs, Naval Affairs, Post Office Department, Public Lands, Claims, and Miscellaneous. By the end of publication, 38 physical volumes comprised the collection. (H. Doc. no. 35, 22d Cong., 1st Sess., at 2 (1831) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 217.)

H. Doc. no. 35, 22d Cong., 1st Sess., at 2 (1831) reprinted in Serial Set vol. 217

As the pages of the Serial Set are digitized, the opportunity to uncover more congressional history expands. Although the means of preserving congressional history has progressed significantly since the 1830s, it is intriguing to see the similarities between data collection then and now.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Statue of Liberty Replica – Pic of the Week

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 06/17/2020 - 9:30am

Welcome, Lady Liberty! On this day, 135 years ago, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York Harbor on board the French steamer Isere. But did you know that you do not necessarily have to travel to New York to see it? In fact, you do not even have to go to the United States at all. How is that possible? Well, I am glad you asked. The Statue of Liberty is reportedly one of the most copied statues in the world and you can find replicas in all sizes all around the globe. I visited one that can be found in the middle of a roundabout in Colmar, France, the birthplace of the sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty.

Replica of the Statue of Liberty in Colmar, France. Photo by Jenny Gesley.

The statue in Colmar was inaugurated in 2004 on the centennial of the death of the sculptor Bartholdi. It is 12 meters (about 39 feet) tall. Auguste Bartholdi was born in Colmar on August 2, 1834. He studied at the Lycee Louis Legrand in Paris. In 1855, he finished the work on his first monument, the statue of General Rapp, which was presented at the World Fair in Paris. He traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East from 1855 to 1856, and was especially fascinated by the monuments and sculptures he saw in Egypt. The Statue of Liberty was inspired by one of his projects to illuminate the entrance of the Suez Canal in Egypt that he called ”Egypt (or Progress) Brings Light to Asia,” which was later cancelled by the Egyptian government. For the construction of the Statue of Liberty, Bartholdi was helped by Gustave Eiffel’s research office and by the engineer Maurice Koechlin. It was completely built in Paris and presented in friendship by France to the United States in 1884. In 1886, it was assembled and inaugurated in New York. He continued to create other statues, monuments, and portraits until his death in 1904, including a cast-iron fountain, which can be found near the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The city of Colmar has a museum dedicated to Bartholdi and erected a monument in his honor.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Join Us on June 30 for the FDLP Academy Webinar on Law Library Digital Collections

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 8:22am

The FDLP (Federal Depository Library Program) Academy Mission is to “Create and deliver enhanced educational opportunities to the FDLP community by fostering collaboration, by facilitating knowledge sharing, and through the application of new methods and use of multiple mediums.”

The Law Library of Congress is engaging in rapid digitization of many rare collection materials and historical U.S. Government documents, as well as its collection of original research on foreign, comparative, and international law topics for Congress and federal agencies. Staff from the Digital Resources Division of the Law Library of Congress look forward to sharing updates on our ongoing digital projects at the upcoming webinar Digital Collections at the Law Library of Congress: Past, Present, and Future, which is hosted by FDLP Academy, a service of the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO).

Join us for a walkthrough of our historical legal collections (including the Statutes at Large and U.S. Reports), a presentation of the work on our current collections (including our Legal Report Archive and 15th-19th Century Spanish Legal Documents), and a discussion on the forthcoming collections (including the U.S. Congressional Serial Set).

Digital Collections at the Law Library of Congress: Past, Present, and Future

Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (EDT)

Please register to attend here.


Registration confirmation information:
Upon registering, a confirmation email from will be sent with instructions for joining the webinar. To ensure delivery of that email, configure your junk mail or spam filter(s) to permit messages from that address. GPO staff will also email your access information the day before the webinar. If you do not receive your login information, please email

Prior to the webinar:
For those participating via a desktop or laptop computer (preferred method), a WebEx plug-in must be installed (one-time only). Download instructions. Some features will not be available for users participating with a tablet or smartphone. Devices need to have a WebEx app installed from the device’s app store, which may take time. After installation, the app will ask you to allow or deny permissions.

Categories: Research & Litigation

District Maps Added to Member Profile Pages in

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 2:33pm

May saw a number of enhancements for Earlier in the month, Andrew told us about a new global search bar, the addition of committee prints and the translation of the Overview of the Legislative Process into Spanish. Later in the month, Robert brought us news of the redesigned Congressional Record header. This month sees the addition of district maps to the congressional member pages for representatives.

Each member of the House of Representatives represents a congressional district within their state. With this month’s enhancement, when you select a member profile page from either the homepage or the Members page, the district map will be included as part of the member’s overview. The map appears as a thumbnail, but it can be enlarged by clicking on the option “View Full Map,” which appears below the thumbnail.

As senators of a state represent the entire state, we did not add maps to their member profile pages.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Happy Anniversary Magna Carta!

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 7:00am

PARENTS! Still homeschooling your kids, or at least looking for something new for them to do?

Then how about a civics lesson by way of Runnymede?

Today marks the 805th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta in a field at Runnymede.

In case you weren’t following us back in 2014-2015, the Law Library, together with other divisions of the Library of Congress, put together an amazing exhibit just ahead of the 800th anniversary, featuring the Lincoln Cathedral’s copy of the Magna Carta.

King John of England (reigned 1199–1216). 1215 Exemplar of Magna Carta. Great Charter of Liberties. Manuscript on parchment, June 1215. Loaned by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln Cathedral, England. From the Library of Congress’s website.

The Library still maintains a page on its Exhibitions website, full of information and related research material, together with pictures of items that were displayed during the exhibit.

Want your kids to learn more about our Founding Fathers and their inspirations for our most basic governing documents?

The exhibition page has information on due process, including some history on Miranda rights.

How about reading more on early court cases involving the right to a trial by jury and the impetus behind the 7th amendment to the Constitution?

There is some very interesting material on the writ of habeas corpus (immunity from illegal imprisonment), including items about Japanese-American interments during World War II.

Ansel Adams (1902–1984). Mess Line, Noon, Manzanar Relocation Center, California [Japanese internment camp], 1943. Photographic reproduction. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Those residing in the D.C. area may be interested in reading about the Stamp Act and early instances of “Taxation without Representation.”

Or inspire them with the story of a 12-yer-old girl who traced the lineage of every president (except poor Martin Van Buren) back to King John.

There is even a “Learn More” section listing titles for readers of all ages.

And, by the way, the Magna Carta website is for adults as well!

Categories: Research & Litigation

Happy Flag Day 2020! State Flags on Display – Pic of the Week

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 12:56pm

Sunday, June 14th, is Flag Day.  In our 2012 post on the subject, I wrote about the origins of Flag Day and flag etiquette.  In celebration of Flag Day this year, Andrew is helping us celebrate with a view of some state flags which are on display as one travels from the Capitol Visitors Center to the Senate Office Buildings.  In honor of Flag Day, learn more about the Capitol Flag Program.

State Flags on Display. Photo by Andrew Weber

Please note that the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center is currently closed and the photo in this post was taken last year.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Join Us on June 25 for a Webinar on Regulating the Use of Technology to Combat COVID-19

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 9:00am

Currently, there is no known cure or vaccine for COVID-19. Countries therefore have to find other ways to control and mitigate the spread of this infectious disease in order to break the chain of human-to-human transmission. Many governments have turned to electronic measures to provide information to individuals about the COVID-19 pandemic, check symptoms,trace contacts of infected persons, identify “hot spots,” and track compliance with confinement measures and stay-at-home orders. Dedicated coronavirus apps that are downloaded to an individual’s mobile phone, the use of anonymized mobility data, and creating electronic databases are the most common measures. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using digital proximity tracking only as a supplement to other measures such as increased testing and manual contact tracing.

Flyer announcing upcoming foreign law webinar on regulating the use of technology to combat COVID-19, created by Susan Taylor-Pikulsky

Please join us on June 25, 2020, at 2pm for the webinar “Regulating the Use of Technology to Combat COVID-19,” which will discuss legislation in foreign countries that allows using “electronic means” to assess general adherence to confinement measures and to stop the spread of COVID-19. This discussion is based on research undertaken by the Global Legal Research Directorate of the Law Library of Congress. The webinar will highlight the different approaches that countries have taken with regard to location tracking and contact tracing and to addressing privacy and data protection concerns.

The webinar will be presented by Jenny Gesley, a foreign law specialist at the Global Legal Research Directorate at the Law Library of Congress. Jenny holds a Master of Laws from the University of Minnesota Law School, a Juris Doctor equivalent from the Goethe University of Frankfurt, Germany, and a doctorate in law. Her doctoral dissertation on “Financial Market Supervision in the United States: National Developments and International Standards” (in German) was awarded the Baker & McKenzie Award in 2015. Dr. Gesley is admitted to the New York State bar and is qualified to practice law in Germany.

To register for the webinar, please click here or call (202) 707-5080.

Categories: Research & Litigation

FALQs: Denmark’s Legal Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 06/11/2020 - 3:25pm

Last week marked Denmark’s Constitution Day, a time I often take to write about Danish legal matters. Much of the Danish celebrations were cancelled or went virtual because of the COIVD-19 pandemic, so I thought what better topic to write about than Denmark’s legal response to COIVD-19. Several of my colleagues have previously written about national COVID-19 responses on this blog. Laney wrote about the response in China, Kelly about the response in New Zealand, Graciela about the response in Spain, Dante about the initial response in Italy, Hanibal about the response in South Africa and the response in Liberia, Clare wrote a two part post about the responses in England, Ruth about the tracking of COVID-19 in Israel, and Tariq about responses in India, and religious authority responses in Pakistan.

[Hochbrucke Square, Copenhagen, Denmark], Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,

1. What is the legal and policy framework for responding to a pandemic?

Responses to contagious disease outbreaks are governed by the Danish Epidemics Act. (Lov om foranstaltninger mod smitsomme sygdomme og andre overførbare sygdomme (Epidemiloven) (LBK 2019-10-01 no. 1026).) On February 27, 2020, Sundheds- og aeldreministern (Danish Minister of Health) added COVID-19 to the list of contagious diseases covered by the law. (LBK 2020-02-27 no. 157.)

On March 12, 2020, the Danish Parliament (Folketinget) passed legislation amending the Epidemics Act using expedited procedures (hastelov). The main change in the law was that it gave the Danish Minister of Health most of the powers that were formerly prescribed to the Epidimikommission (Epidemic Commission), in order to provide for a speedy response to COVID-19. Normally, an Epidemic Commission is made up of representatives from the Danish Health Authority, the police, a doctor, a veterinarian, a customs and tax authority representative, a regional hospital representative, a representative from the Danish Emergency Management Agency, and three members from the regional council. (§ 3 LBK 2019-10-01 no. 126.)

The Danish Parliament has also adopted several additional acts in response to COVID-19, including an amendment to the Sick Pay Act for persons who are high-risk for developing severe symptoms from COVID-19. The amended Sick Pay Act allows high-risk patients to stay home with paid sick leave if accommodations cannot be made to prevent the person from facing a risk of exposure of COVID-19 at the workplace.

2. What quarantine and isolation powers does the government have?

In accordance with the amended Epidemics Act, the Minister of Health can mandate that a person with a contagious disease seek medical treatment, be admitted to a hospital, or isolate at home. (§ 5.) The law also allows the Minister of Health to put a limit on the number of people that may congregate together. If that number is less than ten this must be necessary to prevent the spread of the disease and the Minister of Health must first consult the Danish Health Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen). (§ 6.) Under the same provision, the Minister of Health may also prohibit people from accessing certain public places in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Moreover, under the amended law, risk groups may be forced to undergo vaccinations. (§ 8.) By amending the Epidemic Act, Parliament also expanded the government’s power, which now includes the right to quarantine certain geographical areas. (§ 7.)

3. What actions has the government taken to limit the spread of COVID-19?

The Danish government initiated a number of measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. On March 11, 2020, it announced the closure of all schools as of March 13, 2020, including elementary schools. All government employees were sent home and asked to stay home. All indoor public institutions such as libraries, theaters, and museums were ordered closed. Gatherings were limited to no more than 100 people. People travelling from areas with a COVID-19 outbreak were ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Also on March 13, 2020, Denmark closed its border to all foreigners, including EU citizens who otherwise enjoy freedom of movement in Denmark. Urging all Danish citizens to return home, at this time it also limited the freedom to congregate in groups larger than ten persons. Greenland, which is a part of Denmark but subject to its own Home Rule Act, adopted a measure forbidding the sale of drinks containing more than 2.25% alcohol between March 28, 2020, and April 15, 2020.

In addition, the Danish Parliament has adopted a number of financial stimulus acts to limit the economic effects of its COVID-19 containment measures.

4. What is the framework for opening up?

Denmark began to reduce the various restrictions on April 20, 2020. It is undergoing a phased reopening. The government reached an agreement, on April 17, 2020, with the other political parties to start phase one of the reopening on April 20, 2020. Students began to return to school with special social distancing protocols in place, including recommendations that were issued to staff on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Recommendations include a requirement of one meter (about three feet) between students at all times and two meters (six feet) between students and teachers. Vocational education institutions also opened, but for graduating classes only, on April 20, 2020.

A second agreement with the other political parties in Parliament allowed for phase two to start on May 27, 2020.

Currently, as of June 8, 2020, people are not allowed to congregate in larger numbers than 50 at a time, although demonstrations with more than 50 have been allowed. Under these phased rules, congregating in groups of up to 100 people will be allowed starting July 8, 2020, and 200 starting August 8, 2020. Special rules are under consideration for Danish soccer league games, but have not yet been adopted.

The Danish Parliament has also returned to some of its pre-pandemic voting procedures.

5. What are Denmark’s rules for international travel?

Denmark has limited international travel significantly, allowing only citizens to enter the country as of March 13, 2020. On May 25, 2020, Denmark opened its borders for family members from the Nordic countries (excluding Sweden) and Germany. Persons who live in Sweden but work in Copenhagen are also allowed to enter. Persons who are transiting the country may also enter (for example Swedes may travel from Kastrup Airport).

Starting on June 15, 2020, Denmark will allow Danes to travel to Iceland, Norway, and Germany. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs still advises against all non-essential travel to all other countries, until at least August 31, 2020. Also starting June 15, Denmark will allow tourists from northern Germany (Schleswig-Holstein) to enter Denmark without any further restrictions, i.e. persons without family in Denmark will be allowed to enter.

Danish Media has reported that all Danish students that travel internationally this summer must spend 14 days in self-quarantine before they can return to school. This may have been prompted by an outbreak of COVID-19 linked to some students who visited Sweden, causing their school to close.

6. What is the current status of COVID-19 infections in Denmark?

As of today, June 11, 2020, Denmark has reported 12,035 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 593 fatalities, and 10,955 recovered. Greenland and the Faroe Islands, which are both part of the Danish Realm, have no active COVID-19 cases and have suffered zero fatalities. The Faroe Islands saw its last confirmed case on April 22, with the person reported as having recovered on May 8, 2020.

7. What are other legal resources related to COVID-19?

For other legal resources related to foreign nations’ response to the pandemic, see:

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