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Research & Litigation

Greenland’s National Day, the Home Rule Act (1979), and the Act on Self-Government (2009)

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 06/21/2019 - 9:00am

Today, June 21, 2019, is Greenland’s National Day, marking the longest day of the year (the summer solstice). June 21 is also the anniversary of the entry into force of Greenland’s Act on Self-Government (Lov om Grønlands Selvstyre (Lov nr. 473 af 12 juni 2009)). Although it us still formally a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, Greenland attained autonomy over a number of areas with the passing of this Act. The Act replaced the Home Rule Act, which entered into force 40 years ago this year.

Lov om Groenlands hjemmestyre [Act on Greenland’s Home Rule] (Lov nr. 577 af 29 November 1978). Photo by Kelly McKenna.

The Home Rule Act

On November 29, 1978, the Danish Parliament passed the Home Rule Act (Lov om Grønlands Hjemmestyre), but it did not to enter into force until additional legislation was adopted. On February 21, 1979, the Danish Queen Margrethe signed an act titled: Entry into force of Act on Greenlands Home Rule and Elections to the Greenlandic Parliament etc. (Ikraftsættelse af lov om Grønlands hjemmestyre og om valg til Grønlands landsting i 1979 m.v.). The Home Rule Act subsequently entered into force on May 1, 1979. The Home Rule Act was enacted as a response to the January 17, 1979, Greenlandic referendum, whereby 70.1 % of the voters (63% voter turn out) voted in favor of increased autonomy. Among other things, the Home Rule Act created the Greenlandic Parliament (Landsting in Danish and Inatsisartut in Greenlandic).

In addition to proclaiming that the Home Rule Act would enter into force on May 1, 1979, the 1979 legislation also required that an election to the Greenlandic Parliament be held in April of 1979, i.e., prior to the Home Rule Act entering into force. The election was held on April 4, 1979. Thereafter elections were to be held every four years. The most recent election to the Inatsisartut was in 2018. One of the first local laws passed by the Greenlandic Parliament was a Greenlandic income tax act.  The National Day of Greenland was established by the local government, and was celebrated for the first time on June 21, 1983. In 1985, a special Greenlandic flag was adopted. Since 2016, it must be flown by all government buildings throughout the Danish realm on June 21.

Lov om ikraftsaettelse af lov om Gronlands hjemmestyre og om valg til Gronlands landsting I 1979 m.v. [Act on the Entry into force of Greenland’s Home Rule Act and on Elections to the Greenlandic Parliament in 1979 etc.](lov nr. 56 af 21 februar 1979). Photo by Kelly McKenna.

The Act on Self-Government

The Home Rule Act was in force for thirty years, until a 2008 referendum when Greenlandic voters voted in favor of the adoption of an Act on Self-Government. This time the support for increased Greenlandic independence was even higher than in 1979, with 75% in favor (voter turnout was 71.96%).

The Act of Self-Government recognized Greenlanders as a people under international law (preamble), made Greenlandic the official language of Greenland (§ 20), entitled Greenland to representation at Danish diplomatic missions (although Greenland may be asked to pay for the expense) (§ 20), and granted Greenland power over its mineral resource activities (§ 7).

The Act also specifically states that the Greenlandic people will decide on Greenland’s independence and that an agreement on independence from Denmark requires a referendum in Greenland and approval from the Danish Parliament (§ 21). Foreign affairs remain the responsibility of the Danish Government (§ 11).

The Act includes two lists of areas of responsibility that will, over time, be transferred to Greenland.

Greenland’s relationship with the European Union

An interesting fact about Greenland is that it actually withdrew from the European Communities. When Denmark joined the European Communities in 1973, following a 1972 national referendum, Greenlanders were heavily opposed; the result from Greenland was 70% against versus 63% in favor for Denmark as a whole. As a result, Denmark joined in 1973, but without popular support among Greenlanders. At that time, Greenland had the same autonomy as a Danish county. After gaining home rule in 1979, Greenland held a public referendum in 1982 and decided (with 52% in favor) to leave the European Communities.

Reportedly, the Greenlandic Home Rule Minister for Social Affairs Moses Olsen declared:

We confirm our relations with Denmark – and with Europe – but we also realized that our full membership of the European Community as a ‘European Region’ is inadequate and unworkable along with our self-determination established through our Home Rule. Our climate norms, culture, ethnicity, social structure, economic and industrial pattern, infrastructure and basis for existence are so different from Europe that we can never equate with the European countries or regions. (Natalia Loukacheva, The Arctic Promise: Legal And Political Autonomy Of Greenland And Nunavut, 115 (2007).)

Greenland’s withdrawal was resolved by the creation of the Treaty Amending, With Regard to Greenland, the Treaties establishing the European Communities. Greenland was awarded Overseas Country and Territory (OCT) status for all areas except its fishing industry. The fisheries agreement between Greenland, Denmark, and what is now the European Union (EU) has changed over the years since the EU’s formal creation in 1993.  Greenland still maintains both fishing and cooperation agreements with the EU. Greenland, Denmark, and the EU renegotiate these agreements every six years.  The quotas on fisheries are renegotiated every year. In 2015, Greenland signed a joint declaration with the EU, and is also represented by a delegation to the EU.

The discovery of Greenland. 1875. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Resources related to Greenland


As of 2011, Greenland publishes all of its legislation online in both Greenlandic and Danish.

Library of Congress Online Resources

Guide to Law Online for Greenland and Denmark

Global Legal Monitor, news from Greenland and Denmark

Trade Implications of Brexit: Lessons from Austria’s Accession and Greenland’s Withdrawal

Some Collection Holdings Related to Greenland



Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Sophie Higgerson, Junior Fellow

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 06/19/2019 - 9:43am

Today’s interview is with Sophie Higgerson. Sophie is a Junior Fellow in the Collection Services Division at the Law Library of Congress.

Sophie Higgerson / Photo by Kelly McKenna

Describe your background.

I grew in Vermont and Rhode Island, but went to middle and high school in New Hampshire. Since I moved to Virginia for college, I have found it is easiest just to tell people that I’m from New England. I have loved my time in Virginia and D.C. but there are some things I always miss about home – especially the weather!

What is your academic/professional history?

This past May, I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from William & Mary, where I majored in European Studies with extensive coursework in French and art history. My academic focus is on the architectural and urban history of Western Europe, and I wrote my senior honors thesis on the logic of preservation behind the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Strasbourg, France. I am passionate about historic preservation, material culture, and public engagement with history, and am taking some time to explore potential career fields before seeking an advanced degree. I will be interning at the Smithsonian American Art Museum for eight months after my time at the Library of Congress.

How would you describe your job (or research project) to other people?

I am working on the collection of 44 boxes of 18th century French legal statutes that the Law Library acquired in 1939. I am documenting the key data points, such as titles, dates, and the public officials involved. The collection is a rich repository of decorative woodcuts and printer’s devices, which I am also documenting. So far, I have reviewed two of the boxes, the contents of which primarily deal with taxation and public service. I will be presenting some of my most interesting findings at Display Day, where all the Junior Fellows have a chance to present their work and research to the public. My presentation will probably have to do with private citizens (and sometimes whole towns!) running afoul of the law.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

In my time as an undergraduate, I had two internships in libraries and archives- one at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture in Strasbourg and one at the Preservation Society of Newport County in Newport, Rhode Island. I knew that working in the Law Library would be a fantastic opportunity to apply my language skills and historical knowledge, but also a challenge. I have already learned so much, not only about cataloging but also about French history!

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

I was surprised to learn that the Law Library not only has many collections on foreign and international law, but also employs specialists in those various legal traditions.

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

I also speak German, but not as well as French, so luckily I don’t need it for this project!

Categories: Research & Litigation

Rare Book Video – A Treatise Used to Try Persons Accused of Witchcraft

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 06/18/2019 - 10:35am

Our latest rare book video features the Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th century treatise used to try persons accused of witchcraft.

Categories: Research & Litigation New, Tip and Top for June 2019

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 06/17/2019 - 2:36pm

Earlier this month, Margaret shared the news that now has enhanced navigation for member profile pages.

With this month’s release, the display for errata associated with committee reports has been enhanced. The glossary defines errata as “lists of errors in congressional publications. The corrections are printed on sheets, or pages. The errata sheets are usually tipped into the original document.” When a user performs a search that includes a committee report for which errata has been issued, the list of results will display the errata as a link associated with the report. After the user arrives on the committee report detail page, the errata is available on a tab next to the text of the report.

A list of results displaying errata associated with a committee report on

A committee report detail page displaying errata on a separate tab in

Enhancements for June 2019

Enhancement – Committee Reports – Search Results

  • Committee Report search results display a link to errata for any report for which one has been issued.

Search Tip

Adrienne brings us the latest Search Tip:

Find details of upcoming committee meetings on the homepage. Learn more.

Most-Viewed Bills

Below are the most-viewed bills on for the week of June 9, 2019.

1. H.R.6 [116th] American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 2. H.R.1044 [116th] Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 3. H.R.5 [116th] Equality Act 4. H.R.2157 [116th] Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act, 2019 5. H.R.5428 [116th] Stand with UK against Russia Violations Act 6. H.R.38 [116th] Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2019 7. S.386 [116th] Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 8. H.R.1994 [116th] Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 9. H.R.1 [116th] For the People Act of 2019 10. H.R.2820 [116th] Dream Act of 2019

Please share any comments below or submit your feedback on

Categories: Research & Litigation

Wheatland, the Home of President James Buchanan – Pic of the Week

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 06/10/2019 - 1:05pm

Our picture of the week is Wheatland, the home of President James Buchanan. President Buchanan is not rated highly by historians due to his inability to prevent the Southern states from seceding from the Union, but he came to the office with impressive credentials, having served as a lawyer, Secretary of State, Minister to the United Kingdom and Russia, United States Senator, member of the United States House of Representatives, and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from Lancaster County. But as the introductory film in Wheatland’s visitor’s center concluded, Buchanan had a much more limited view of the powers of the presidency than Americans have today. As such, he believed there was little he could do to prevent the Southern states from seceding. Buchanan resolved to maintain and reinforce federal forts in Southern states and wait for the Confederate states to make a move against them. That action took place with the firing on Fort Sumter after Abraham Lincoln had taken office. As Buchanan rode in a carriage with Abraham Lincoln to Lincoln’s inauguration, Buchanan is said to have remarked, “My dear sir, if you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man indeed.”

Wheatland, the home of President James Buchanan. Photo by Robert Brammer.

The tour guide pointed out several interesting artifacts that were owned by Buchanan, including some of his legal texts, a bottle of wine from his personal collection, a teak desk from India that he used in his office in the White House, and even the bed that he died in. When asked about Buchanan’s legacy, the tour guide acknowledged that while he may not be considered a great president, Buchanan’s influence can be felt elsewhere, in that he raised his niece, Harriet Lane, to become an independent, educated woman, and part of his legacy can be felt through her work to promote the availability of pediatric medicine and the arts.

The desk that President Buchanan used in the White House. Photo by Robert Brammer.

President Buchanan’s legal texts. Photo by Robert Brammer.

President Buchanan’s deathbed. Photo by Robert Brammer.

Categories: Research & Litigation

The American Battle Monuments Commission and the Commemoration of America’s D-Day Fallen

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 06/06/2019 - 11:08am

French Coast dead ahead–helmeted Yankee soldiers crouch, tightly packed, behind bulwarks of a Coast Guard landing barge in the historic sweep across the English Channel to the shores of Normandy (U.S. Coats Guard, 1944). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. //

Today is the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy by Allied forces during World War II, usually referred to as D-Day.  The amphibious and airborne invasions secured a beachhead in northwestern France, which allowed for the rapid build up of forces needed to secure France’s liberation.

The invasion was part of an overall strategic plan, Operation Overlord, which had the goal of bringing American, British, Canadian, and allied ground forces into battle against the German army in western Europe.  Almost 11 months later, after much hard fighting and continued advancements on other fronts by Soviet and allied forces, the German armed forces surrendered unconditionally.

The opening and closing scenes of Saving Private Ryan were filmed in Normandy, specifically at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, a community adjacent to Omaha Beach, one of the invasion beaches in the American sector.  Most historians agree that the fighting at Omaha Beach was the most intense on D-Day.  The cemetery is a component of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), a government agency which administers U.S. military cemeteries and memorials throughout the world.

The ABMC was established by law in 1923.  The bill establishing the Commission was introduced by Representative Stephen Porter of Pennsylvania, who was chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.  The legislation was endorsed by President Harding, who submitted letters of support from Secretary of War John W. Weeks, which explained the need for a unified approach in giving proper and respectful remembrance to the actions of all U.S. forces.  Bureau of the Budget Director Charles G. Dawes reiterated most of the points outlined by Weeks and also provided estimates on the amount of funds needed to create monuments for the sties and operate the agency for the first few years. The Commission was also tasked to consult with the United States Commission of Fine Arts for the approval of the designs and materials of proposed monuments.

Originally, sites were acquired in France and Belgium.  After World War II new sites were acquired across the world, including locations in the United States that memorialize American service personnel and merchant sailors who lost their lives in combat or are missing in action.  Some locations, such as the cemetery in Mexico City, were established before the creation of the Commission, but now fall under its jurisdiction.


Categories: Research & Litigation

Introducing Spanish Legal Documents (15th – 19th Centuries): Opinions and Judgments

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 4:44pm

The following is a guest post by Stephen Mayeaux, Legal Information Specialist in the Digital Resources Division at the Law Library of Congress. 

Sentence of December 31, 1862 issued by the Second Criminal Chamber of the Royal Audiencia of the city of Barcelona, concerning criminal charges against Claudio Feliú Fontanills for impersonating a deceased person known as Claudio Fontanellas Sala.

The Law Library of Congress is proud to share the first of six subsections that comprise our Spanish Legal Documents collection (also known as the “Hispanic Legal Documents” collection, and often discussed alongside our “Miscellaneous Hispanic Documents” collections. For more information of the different formats and origins of these related collections, see our most recent post on this topic.

Purchased by the Library in 1941, the Spanish Legal Documents were primarily issued in individual sections, which varied from one to six folios. The majority of the documents were printed using handset type on handmade paper, which is in exceptionally good condition, and a small portion of the collection consists of manuscripts. The purchase order was described as “a collection of covenants of judicial contests between people, noble men and civil and religious institutions in Spain – Reales Cédulas –Pragmáticas Reales of the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries.”

The legal documents remained in the Law Library for over 40 years after purchase before the funds were made available to organize, index, and microfilm them in 1983 and 1984. At that time, the documents were divided into six categories:
• Briefs
• Canon Law
• Notarial Instruments
Opinions & Judgments
• Laws & Statutes
• Miscellaneous

The microfilmed documents were digitized in 2017, and much of the post-digitization work has involved assigning specific metadata elements, such as language, region, and subject headings to almost 2,500 unique items.

While the remaining five subsections are still awaiting final cataloging updates, we wanted to begin sharing the collection as each part becomes available online, with the goal of displaying the full collection in the very near future.

Which brings us to our first published subsection: Opinions & Judgments. These are comprised of decisions rendered by the king’s courts, opinions by the attorneys of the king, as well as local courts’ judgments concerning a variety of cases and subjects. Most prominent are inheritance and estate, dowry, and titles of nobility cases. Other cases offer a little more to satisfy our taste for 18th century palace intrigue and scandal. European historians familiar with the Távora affair might recognize the case described in the manuscript below, in which the 8th Duke of Aveiro was stripped of his title, convicted, and executed for his role in an assassination attempt against King Joseph I of Portugal.

Resolution by the Royal Council sentencing José Mascareñas, Duke of Abeyro [Aveiro], and others for their conspiracy to assassinate the King of Portugal. [January 12, 1759].

Stay tuned for additional updates as we make more subsections available online, and in the meantime, please take a look at previous blog posts by the many interns, junior fellows, and staff members who have helped bring these unique and rare collections to life.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Constitution Day and Election Day in Denmark

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 06/05/2019 - 4:11pm

On this day 170 years ago, the Danish King Frederik VII signed the Danish Constitution of 1849, creating a constitutional monarchy. Thus, today marks Grundlovsdagen (Constitution Day). Although a national and bank holiday, the day is not such a grand affair as Constitution Day of Norway.

This year may be different, though, as Denmark holds its national elections for the Danish Parliament today, June 5. It is the first time ever that Denmark will hold a general national election on its Constitution Day.

Danish Election (Bain News Service, publisher , between ca. 1915 and ca.1920). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. //

When is the Danish Parliamentary Election?

Unlike neighbor countries Norway and Sweden, which both must hold elections in September every four years by constitutional mandate, Denmark has floating elections, meaning that it allows the government to announce the next election, provided it does so prior to the end of the current four-year term. (§ 32 Danish Constitution).

The Danish Constitution mandates that elections to the Folketinget (Danish Parliament) are conducted through general, direct, and secret elections. (§ 31 Constitution.) Members of Parliament serve for a four-year term. (§ 32 Constitution.)

How Long is the Campaign Period?

The campaign period starts after the sitting Prime Minister of Denmark announces a national election. The campaign period is thereby limited and only allows for campaigning within this set period. On May 7, 2019, Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen announced that the 2019 election would be held on June 5, 2019, meaning that the campaign period would be less than a month.

Who Can Stand for Election?

Anyone who is a Danish citizen and has a right to vote may stand for election, unless that person is convicted of certain crimes. (§ 4 Parliamentary Elections Act)

To stand for election, a person must be a member of a party. There are currently 13 political parties represented in the Danish Parliament. Parties that hold a seat in Parliament automatically have a right to be on the ballot in the next election. (§ 11 Parliamentary Elections Act.) In addition, parties that have received signatures from 1/175 of the valid votes cast (about 20,000 signatures) in the last election and that register with the Ministry for Economic Affairs and the Interior no less than 15 days before the election date are also eligible. (§ 12 Parliamentary Elections Act.)

Who Can Vote? 

Danish citizens aged 18 years and older who permanently reside in Denmark are eligible to vote. (§ 1 Parliamentary Elections Act.) Typically, Danes living abroad are not allowed to vote. Certain expats who are stationed abroad are eligible, however (§ 2 Parliamentary Elections Act.) Technically, the Danish Queen Margrethe meets all the legal requirements to vote, but the royal family does not vote.

When are the Results Posted?

The results must be posted as soon as possible.  The Ministry for Economic Affairs and the Interior posts it in the Statstidende (Danish government gazette).

Danish election returns, by Bain News Service, publisher. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. //

Voter Participation

Voter participation in the national parliamentary elections is generally high in Denmark (85.89% in 2015). However, participation is lower in Greenland (49% in 2015), and the Faroe Islands (66.2% in 2015). The figures for these two Danish territories are similar to the Danish voter participation in the EU elections: 66.1% in 2019 and 56.3% in 2014.

How Many Members are there in the Danish Parliament?

There are 179 members of Parliament, of which two represent Greenland and two represent the Faroe Islands.

When Does Parliament Convene?

Following the election, the parliament meets on the twelfth weekday (includes Saturdays) following the election day (this year, June 20) at 12pm, unless the Prime Minister has called for a meeting prior to that. (§ 35. Stk. 1. Danish Constitution.)

In non-election years, the Parliamentary year starts on the first Tuesday of October and ends the same Tuesday the following year. (§ 36. Stk. 1 Danish Constitution.) The Parliament convenes at 12 pm on the first day of the parliamentary year. (§ 36. Stk. 2.)

Prohibition on Political Campaigning on TV & Limits on Size of Political Posters

An interesting fact about Denmark, which Americans may find interesting, is the prohibition against political campaigning on TV. (§ 76 stk 3 Danish Radio and Television Act). In fact, all the Nordic countries have this prohibition.

In addition, Danish law sets limits on how large a political poster may be without first applying for a permit from the Danish-Transport authorities: 0.8 square meters. Such banners may only be placed on public roads four weeks prior to the election and must be removed eight days after the election. (§ 84 Public Roads Act.)

Law Library Resources on Elections Around the Globe:

Legal Reports on Elections and Campaign Financing

FALQs: Saudi Arabia Municipal Elections – Women Participate for the First Time

Israel’s 2013 Elections: The Making of a Coalition Government

Women in History: Voting Rights

Family Voting as a Solution to Low Fertility? Experiences from France and Germany

And many more

Resources on Denmark:

Guide to Law Online: Denmark

Guide to Law Online: Greenland (part of the Kingdom of Denmark)

60 Years of Lego Building Blocks and Danish Patent Law

Danish Law – Global Collection Highlights

The Making of a Legal Cinnamon Bun

And many more

Global Legal Monitor articles:



Faroe Islands

Categories: Research & Litigation

The Centennial Celebration of Woman’s Suffrage Begins

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 06/04/2019 - 8:00am

The following is a guest post by Colleen Shogan, the Assistant Deputy Librarian of Collections and Services at the Library of Congress. She is also the Library’s designee on the Woman’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. The Library of Congress opens its newest exhibition, Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote, on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. This exhibition will tell the story of the long campaign for women’s suffrage–considered the largest reform movement in American history–which lasted more than seven decades.


WOMAN SUFFRAGE PICKET PARADE, by Harris & Ewing, photographer. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

One hundred years ago today, the nineteenth amendment to the United States Constitution, which removed legal barriers for women exercising the right to vote, received the required two-thirds vote in Congress to advance the proposed language to the state ratification stage. The political path to congressional passage was protracted and circuitous. The longest-lasting social movement in the United States, the woman’s suffrage movement spanned eight decades of American history. How did suffragists finally achieve a pivotal milestone on June 4, 1919?

Congress first considered the notion of female suffrage on January 23, 1866, when James Brooks (D-NY) asked why women had been excluded from the Fourteenth Amendment. After Brooks’ arguments failed to gain robust congressional support, the word “male” was inserted into the text of the amendment as a requirement for citizenship. Elizabeth Cady Stanton remarked that once the word “male” appeared in the Constitution, “it will take us a century at least to get it out.”

Although women’s voting rights were conferred earlier than Stanton’s prediction, her larger point held true. In 1872, Virginia Minor attempted to register to vote in the presidential election in St. Louis. When she was prevented from doing so, Minor and her husband sued the local registrar of voters. In Minor v. Happersett (1875), the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the claim that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited the disenfranchisement of women as citizens of the United States. After the high court’s decision, the judicial avenue for securing women the right to vote disintegrated. The path ahead became clear: the suffrage movement needed to secure legislative support to change the legal conclusion that citizenship did not confer upon women the right to vote.

The two existing suffrage organizations adopted divergent strategies to achieve this goal. The American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) utilized a state-by-state approach while the National Woman Suffrage Association (NSWA) focused on changing federal law. Senator Aaron Sargent (R-CA) introduced a woman’s suffrage amendment in 1878, but at the time, there was little political momentum or support for the measure.

In 1890, AWSA and NSWA merged to create the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). At this point in American history, women began to join volunteer associations at higher rates. Female community participation proved beneficial for the suffrage movement, as women transferred their energies and organizing skills from local civic groups to NAWSA.

Initially, the movement continued to focus on gaining suffrage at the state level, with some significant success, particularly in the American West. However, in 1914, Lucy Burns and Alice Paul formed the Congressional Union (CU) for Woman Suffrage, an organization wholly dedicated to securing a federal amendment. The Congressional Union eventually became the National Woman’s Party (NWP), which employed more militant tactics (such as organized mass marches) than NAWSA or predecessor American suffragist groups. In 1917, the NWP organized the first picket of the White House, seeking to draw President Woodrow Wilson into the suffrage fight. This led to arrests and eventually the imprisonment of suffragists in a nearby workhouse.

The same year, Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) became the first woman to serve in Congress. Representative John Raker (D-CA) proposed a new committee to consider the woman’s suffrage amendment. President Wilson endorsed the Raker proposal, which passed the House of Representatives later that year. After hearings in early 1918, the amendment came to the floor, with Congresswoman Rankin beginning the debate. The night before, Wilson announced support for the amendment. On January 10, 1918, the woman’s suffrage amendment received its first favorable vote in Congress, with the slimmest possible margin in the House, 274-136. However, the amendment failed to receive the required votes in the Senate during the sixty-fifth Congress, even after the President delivered a speech in the chamber on September 30, imploring the body to approve the amendment.

The following year, the House once again passed the amendment on May 21, 1919.  In the meantime, suffragists had focused their time and attention on securing Senate approval. Using an innovative lobbying method utilizing index cards, Maud Younger led an organized effort to change the hearts and minds of senators. After two days of debate, the upper chamber finally approved the amendment with no extra votes to spare (56-25) on June 4, 1919. Ratification by the states began only six days later, with Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin leading the way.

Categories: Research & Litigation

A Follow-up Interview with Elin Hofverberg, Foreign Law Specialist

In Custodia Legis - Mon, 06/03/2019 - 4:37pm

Our interview series on In Custodia Legis started almost nine years ago with an interview of the then-Law Librarian of Congress, Roberta Shaffer.  We are now approaching 300 interviews.  Today’s interview with Elin marks a first: it is the first time we have completed a follow-up interview.  Elin was originally interviewed in 2011 when she was an intern at the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your current position.

I work as a foreign law specialist, meaning I conduct research on and monitor foreign and international law. My primary jurisdictions are the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden), which also naturally includes researching European Union (EU) law as Denmark, Sweden, and Finland are members of the EU. In addition to responding to requests from Congress and executive agencies, as well as research requests from the public, I also maintain and update the law collection for these jurisdictions.

Elin Hofverberg / Photo by Donna Sokol

What project are you most proud of that you have worked on at the Law Library of Congress?

The most rewarding part of my job is the joy of providing information that our patrons cannot find anywhere else; for example, locating an old law from a foreign jurisdiction, or writing an analysis of a recent foreign legal developments not covered by the US media. Work at the Law Library of Congress is always very varied. Our director, Peter Roudik, often says, “what’s in the news is on our desks.”

I have written reports on topics as diverse as cryptocurrencies, foreign aid, and the slaughter of animals. I have also written “lighter” pieces, such as my blog pieces on Lego and Danish Patent Law, and the Making of a Legal Cinnamon Bun.

Law is all around us.

What is the most interesting thing you have discovered from working with the Law Library’s print and electronic collections?

How fascinating its collections are. The legal collections for the Nordic countries are extensive. Every time I work with older material I feel as If I’ve stepped into a time machine. For example, the Law Library has an original Icelandic law book from 1637.

What is your favorite Law Library of Congress website and why?

Aside from this blog, I really enjoy reading my colleagues contributions to the Global Legal Monitor (GLM). As a lawyer specializing in international and comparative law, I find it interesting to learn how other countries deal with legal issues.  In 2013, I wrote a GLM article on a decision by the Norwegian Tax Authority with regard to cryptocurrencies that later resulted in a multinational cryptocurrency report. That report has since been updated numerous times.

When you learn how one country responds to a particular legal issue you become curious to find out how other countries have approached it. We at the Global Legal Research Directorate are in a unique position to be able to satisfy that curiosity.

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

When I first joined the Library, I was impressed by the Jefferson collection (especially his law collection). Today, I am impressed that we are such a living library. The Law Library alone has collected more than 2,954,200 volumes (the most in the world), and just in the 2018 fiscal year we prepared 1,665 legal research reports, special studies and memoranda sent across three branches of government, and answered 3,680 Ask-a Librarian requests.

The troves of knowledge contained within the Library’s walls is amazing to me.

What is your favorite legal novel and/or movie?

It’s hard to pick an absolute favorite, but one of the movies with a legal theme that I’ve seen numerous times is The Pelican Brief. With time, I have come to accept the discrepancies from the original book by John Grisham.

Another movie that I have seen more than once is 12 Angry Men, which is part of the National Film Registry. Although, I find that one is less about law and more about psychology.

I keep abreast of Nordic crime shows, such as The Bridge, just to know what my colleagues are talking about. My favorite Danish show is Borgen, which can be described as a Danish West Wing.

Categories: Research & Litigation


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