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Marking the 474th Anniversary of the Commencement of the Ecumenical Council of Trent

Fri, 12/13/2019 - 8:32am

The following is a guest post by Dante Figueroa, Senior Legal Information Analyst at the Law Library of Congress.

         Canon law books at the Law Library of Congress. Photo by Dante Figueroa.

Recently, I was reviewing a full cart of canon law books and found interesting materials related to the Catholic Church’s ecumenical councils. Ecumenical councils are “legally convened assemblies of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts for the purpose of discussing and regulating matters of church doctrine and discipline.”

Among these documents, those related to the 19th Ecumenical Council of Trent caught my attention. The Council of Trent opened on December 13, 1545, and closed on December 4, 1563. Today marks the 474th anniversary of the commencement of the Council. The Council was held as a reaffirmation of the Articles of Faith of the Catholic Church (that is, the creed or beliefs of a specific religion) and the ancient and established rules for the conduct of clerics and the internal management of the Catholic Church vis-à-vis the doctrinal and violent turbulence unleashed during the 16th century.

From the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church had been actively battling some issues of clerical behavior and internal adherence to doctrine that were still simmering by the beginning of the 16th century throughout Europe. By then, the division of the Western Christian Church was looming in the horizon as the Protestant Reformation started making in-roads. Although in the making as far back as the 15th century, the so-called Catholic Counter-Reformation’s most important expression was the Council of Trent.

The book below, published in Lucerne, Switzerland, in 1832, contains a collection of documents concerning the Council of Trent, and translated to English reads as follows: “The Holy Universal and General Council of Trent, that is, the Resolutions and Holy Canons, including the Related Pontifical Bulls.”

Das Heilige, Allgültige und Allgemeine Concilium von Trient, das ist: dessen Beschlůsse und Heil. Canones nebst den Betreffenden Påbstlichen Bullen; Treu übersezt, und mit einem Vollständigen Sachregister Versehen von Jodoc. Egli. Edition: 2, genau durchgesehene, verb. und verm. aufl. (Luzern, X. Meyer, 1832). Photo by Dante Figueroa.

The twenty-fifth and final session of the Council took place from December 3 to 4, 1563, and promulgated a number of dogmatic decrees. In general, these decrees concern:

  • The Creed of Faith
  • The Canon of Scripture (the Vulgate)
  • The Edition and Use of the Sacred Books
  • Original Sin
  • The Doctrine of Justification
  • A Refusal of the Protestant Doctrine of Predestination
  • Episcopal Jurisdiction
  • The Sacraments, in particular the Sacrament of Orders (Priesthood and Consecrated Religious Life) and Matrimony
  • Purgatory
  • Invocation, Veneration, and Relics of the Saints and Sacred Images
  • Indulgences
  • Fasting and Abstinence
  • The Liturgy (Index of Books, the Catechism, the Breviary, and the Missal)

The decrees were approved by Pope Pius IV on January 26, 1564, through the Bull (“Benedictus Deus”), which made them obligatory in the whole Catholic world. The Bull was followed by the publication in November of that year of the Professio Fidei Tridentinæ, which is a binding formula of faith (formula professionis et juramenti) for all dignitaries and teachers of the Catholic Church.

Additional Library of Congress materials on the Council of Trent are also available in other languages, including:

Bull of Indiction of the Sacred Oecumenical and General Council of Trent, issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Paul III. From: Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Photo by Dante Figueroa.

Further bibliographical resources on the Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church in the Library’s collection include:

  • ItalianDecisioni dei Concili Ecumenici, a cura di Giuseppe Alberigo (1978), which includes the councils of Nicaea I (325), Constantinople I (381), Ephesus (431), Chalcedon (451), Constantinople II (553), Constantinople III (680-681), Nicaea II (787), Lateran IV (1215), Lyon II (1274), Vienna (1311-1312), Constance (1414-1418), Basil (1431-1445), Vatican I (1869-1870), and Vatican II (1962-1965).
  • Latin: Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, Centro di documentazione, Istituto per le Scienze Religiose, Bologana, curantibus Josepho Alberigo et al. (1962).

The Law Library’s foreign legal specialists are here to help you discover and examine our unique and valuable collection of canon law materials.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Report on Right of Huguenots to French Citizenship

Wed, 12/11/2019 - 9:00am

The following is a guest post from Nicolas Boring, the foreign law specialist covering French- speaking jurisdictions at the Law Library of Congress. Nicolas has previously blogged about The Library of the French National Assembly – Pic of the Week, among others.

A recent Law Library of Congress report examines a little-known historical development: the right of Huguenots to French citizenship, and the revocation of that right in 1945.

Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy, / Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Huguenots were French Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Despite persecution on the part of the Catholic authorities, Protestantism spread quickly in France during the 16th century. Conflicts between Catholics and Protestants eventually developed into a civil war, known as the Wars of Religion. This conflict came to an end in 1598, when King Henri IV—who was Protestant but converted to Catholicism a few years after being crowned King of France—issued the Edict of Nantes. This document, one of the first decrees of religious tolerance in Europe, granted Huguenots a large measure of religious freedom.

Henri IV was assassinated in 1610, and was succeeded on the throne by Louis XIII, and followed by Louis XIV in 1642. Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685 and Protestants again found themselves the target of persecutions throughout the Kingdom of France. These persecutions led hundreds of thousands of Huguenots to emigrate abroad, losing their French citizenship in the process.

Most students of French history have at least some passing knowledge of these developments, and are also aware that the 1789 French Revolution restored religious freedom in France. What is less commonly known, however, is that in 1790, the revolutionary government adopted a law welcoming the descendants of exiled Huguenots back to France. It provided that any descendant of a French man or woman who left France due to religious persecutions would automatically become a French citizen upon returning to France and taking the civic oath (serment civique, an oath of allegiance to the French nation, French laws, and the constitution). This 1790 law is the focus of our new report. With a few amendments along the way, this law remained in force until 1945, and the report examines not just the law itself but the manner by which it was abrogated by the adoption of a new Nationality Code in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

For information on other Law Library reports see In Custodia Legis posts; or view them directly by browsing the Current Legal Topics or Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports pages on our website. For legal news from France, you may search the Law Library’s Global Legal Monitor. To receive alerts when new reports or articles are published, you can subscribe to email updates and RSS feed (click the “subscribe” button on the Law Library’s website).

Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Susan Taylor-Pikulsky, Visual Information Specialist

Tue, 12/10/2019 - 8:17am

Today’s interview is with Susan Taylor-Pikulsky, a visual information specialist at the Law Library of Congress.

Describe your background? 

I’m originally from Youngstown, Ohio, famous for its steelmaking heyday and immortalized in its namesake Bruce Springsteen ballad. At age 16, I started my first job as a tour guide at the historic Arts and Crafts home of Olive F. Arms—the Arms Family Museum—which instilled in me a deep love of history, architecture, and design. Over a century after its completion, the home stands as a monument to beautiful design and the power of one woman with an unwavering vision to positively impact a community.

What is your academic/professional history? 

Photo by Katie Lewis, National Defense University.

I spent most of my university education overseas, completing my masters of arts in international relations from the University of St Andrews in 2010. I moved to Washington, D.C., immediately after graduation and for nine years I worked in various roles in the Department of Defense, most recently spending six years working as a program director for the United States Naval Special Warfare Command.

I was recently accepted to the Maryland Institute College for Art in Baltimore for their Data Analytics and Visualization program. I am very excited to have the opportunity to stay on the cutting edge of trends in transforming data into visually compelling forms and apply those skills to my work in the Law Library.

How would you describe your job to other people? 

When people hear “visual information specialist” they usually conjure images of something in the realm of audio/visual technician. In reality my position is similar to that of a graphic designer, wherein I create graphics and visualizations that accurately communicate nuanced characteristics of international law (such as the Law Library’s recent report, Israel: Military Draft Law and Enforcement, exploring the issue of military draft law in Israel). I view my role as collaborating with our incredible team of legal experts and editors in order to enhance users’ understanding of the material. My goal is to ensure that we are using the proper tools to fully engage with our audience and that our materials are accessible to all.

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

After I saw the Library invest in new branding from Paula Scher and Pentagram I knew there was a home for me here where I could marry my civil service with my love of graphic design. I love that Scher’s logo and branding defy pre conceived expectations and limitations about how a government identity should look and act.

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

The discovery that has made me most excited was learning that the WPA Federal Art Project poster collection is housed in the Library. Active from 1935 to 1943, the Federal Art Project played a vital role in many artists’ lives during a tumultuous period of American history and some prints remain among the most significant pieces of public art in the country.

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

Since starting work at the Library I’ve started a small side-project just for myself in which I create historic collages using pieces from the Library’s vast collections in the public domain. It’s been a fun way for me to explore the library’s collections as well as the history of Washington, D.C.

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

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 7:11pm

Back in November, Andrew shared that withdrawn cosponsors are now displayed on Senate Amendments in The November release also brought improvements to the accessibility of search results for patrons using screen readers.  With our December release, the addition of next and previous arrows improves navigation between committee hearing detail pages. In addition, the compact view on the cosponsors tab on legislation pages makes it easy to cut and paste cosponsor information for use in other applications.

Next and previous arrows improves navigation between committee hearing detail pages on

Enhancements for December 2019

Enhancement – Committee Schedule – Navigation

  • Next and previous arrows allow for easy navigation from one meeting detail page to the next.

Enhancement – Cosponsors – Compact View

  • The compact view of the cosponsors tab on legislation pages provides an unformatted version of the list of cosponsors that is useful for cutting and pasting the information into another application.

Search Tip RSS feeds help you keep up with congressional activity. Subscribe to one or more feeds such as Bills Presented to the President, On the House Floor Today, On the Senate Floor Today, Search Tips, and more.

Most-Viewed Bills

Below are the most-viewed bills for the week of December 1, 2019. All of them are from the 116th Congress.

1. H.R.724  Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act 2. S.1838  Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 3. H.R.3289  Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 4. H.R.3884  Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 5. S.2227  MORE Act of 2019 6. H.R.3055  Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020, and Further Health Extenders Act of 2019 7. H.R.1309  Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act 8. H.R.420  Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act 9. S.386  Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 10. H.R.1044  Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019
Categories: Research & Litigation

The Constitution Annotated—Impeachment Clauses

Mon, 12/09/2019 - 1:23pm

This guest post is by the Law Library’s Chief of the Public Services Division, Andrew Winston. Andrew has written several posts for the blog, including Federal Courts Web Archive Launched, A Visit to the Peace Palace Library, and The Revised Statutes of the United States: Predecessor to the U.S. Code.

Beyond the Constitution Annotated: Table of Additional Resources

The Library of Congress has updated the Constitution Annotated essays pertaining to impeachment and incorporated them in the annotations to Article I, Article II, and Article III of the Constitution. In addition, the updated impeachment essays are consolidated in Resources about Impeachment.  Additional information on impeachment is available on the website’s Beyond the Constitution Annotated: Table of Additional Resources under Resources.

The Library of Congress launched the Constitution Annotated on Constitution Day, September 17, 2019. The website provides online access to the “Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation,” which has served as Congress’s official record of the Constitution for over a century and explains in layman’s terms the Constitution’s origins, how the nation’s most important law was crafted and ratified, and how every provision in the Constitution has been interpreted. With advanced search tools and a modern, user-friendly interface, the new website makes the 3,000 pages of the Constitution Annotated fully searchable and accessible for the first time to online audiences—including Congress, legal scholars, law students, and anyone interested in U.S. constitutional law.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Finland’s Independence Day and the Finnish Constitution of 1919

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 2:56pm

Today marks Finland’s Independence Day, a day that was celebrated for the first time exactly one hundred years ago today, on December 6, 1919. Although the date marks the signing of Finland’s Declaration of Independence in 1917, the day was not established as a national holiday until November 20, 1919, through a government decision (No. 138 of 1919).

Statsrådets beslut därom, att den 6 december årligen skall firas såsom årsdag av Finlands självständighetsförklaring [Government decision that December 6 shall be celebrated annually as the anniversary of Finland’s Declaration of Independence] (Finlands författningssamling [FFS] 1919:138). Photo by Geraldine Davila Gonzalez.

The year 1919 is an important year in the history of Finland. Following its independence from Russia in 1917, the Finns set out to decide whether they wanted to become a constitutional republic or a constitutional monarchy. It proved to be a difficult decision. The conflict sparked the Finnish Civil War of 1918, which appears to still divide the Finns, some 100 years later.

The original draft of the Finnish Constitution did indeed designate Finland a constitutional monarchy, and the German-born Prince Friedrich Karl of Hesse was even chosen as King of Finland. He later declined the throne, prior to his coronation in December of 1918, following the complete defeat of Germany in the First World War, which led to the abdication of Kaiser Willhelm II. Thus, in July 1919, a constitutional republic was formed through the adoption of the Finnish Constitution of 1919. Then- regent Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, who was known for being a monarchist, signed the constitution.

Suomen Hallitusuoto [Instrument of Government for Finland] [Finnish Constitution](Suomen Asetuskokoelma 1919:94) (in Finnish). Photo by Geraldine Davila Gonzalez.

Regeringsform för Finland [Instrument of Government for Finland] (FFS 1919:94) [Finnish Constitution of 1919] (in Swedish). Photo by Geraldine Davila Gonzalez.


Carl Gustaf Emil von Mannerheim, two head-and-shoulders portraits, facing left. , None. [Between 1910 and 1930] .Prints and Photographs Division Library of Congress.

The Constitution of 1919 contained a number of important provisions, including:

  • That Finland be an Independent and Sovereign Republic. (1 §.)
  • That the Head of State be the President. (2 § 2 st.)
  • How a president is elected. (23 §.)
  • That the People be represented through Parliament. (2 §.)
  • That there be a Prime Minister.
  • That Finnish Citizens are equal before the law. (5 §.)
  • Abolishment of Nobility. (15§.)
  • Freedom of the Press (originally obtained as the first country in the world, while part of Sweden in 1766).
  • That there be two supreme courts, one for civil and criminal cases (the Supreme Court), and one for public administrative cases (the Supreme Administrative Court). (2 § 4 st.)
  • Establishment of a right to belong or not to belong to a religion. (8-9 § §.)
  • That Finnish and Swedish be the official languages in Finland and that citizens have a right to communicate with the state and receive documents from the state in these languages. (14 §.) All military training was also to be conducted in the recruit’s language, although the military commando language was determined as Finnish (75 § ).

The “Language Question” was one of the more difficult questions to agree on. Swedish had been the language of the educated classes, but a nationalistic spirit, especially in the wake of the Civil War, led to an increase in support for a Finnish-only provision.

The Instrument of Government of 1919 also made clear that the text was only one of several constitutional texts, which together formed the Finnish Constitution. (1 §.) Other constitutional texts were the Diet Order of 1906 (which gave women the right to vote), The Riksdag Act of 1928, Minister Liability Act and the Law on Impeachment from 1922. The constitutional texts were replaced by one single Constitution in March of 2000 after being adopted in 1999, available in Finnish and Swedish. An English unofficial translation has also been made available by the Finnish Ministry for Justice.

As provided for in the Constitution of 1919, the lantdagen (Diet of Finland) elected the first president (94§). Thus, on July 25, 1919, Dr. Karrlo Juho Ståhlberg was elected the first President of Finland, defeating Gustaf Mannerheim with 143 to 50 votes. Mannerheim would later become the sixth President of Finland in 1944, during the Second World War.

Dr. K.J. Ståhlberg [Oct. 19, 1925 (date created or published later by Bain)]. Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division.

Additional resources available at the Library of Congress:

Finnish Independence and Civil War:

Law Library Online Resources on Finland:


If you have a question regarding Finnish law, you can submit it using the Ask a Librarian form on our website.

Hyvää itsenäisyyspäivää!

Glad självständighetsdag!

Happy Independence Day!

Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Aslihan Bulut – Deputy Law Librarian For Collections

Wed, 12/04/2019 - 7:00am

Today’s interview is with Aslihan Bulut, our new deputy law librarian for collections.  Aslihan now heads up the Global Legal Collections Directorate of the Law Library.

Aslihan Bulut. Photo by Geraldine Davila Gonzalez

Describe your background.

I am 1.5 generation (1.5G) Turkish-American, meaning I immigrated to the United States as an adolescent.  I credit learning English to my discovery of the neighborhood public library that was within walking distance from our home.  I was in awe of the collection and resources that were freely available.  Public libraries, in my opinion, are in the list of the top three institutions that Americans take for granted, right up there with freedom of speech and the press.  I learned to read English, graduating from Curious George books to exhausting the entire run of Nancy Drew holdings in the small branch library collection.  I soon discovered inter-library loan and the seeds of love and appreciation for libraries were planted then and there.  My appreciation of and commitment to libraries as a seminal institution of democracy and a bedrock of an egalitarian society has grown exponentially over the course of my adulthood and my chosen career.

What is your academic/professional history?

I have worked in libraries since high school, where I first started as a page in the reference department of our public library (a different one than the one above), shelving, shelf-reading, and filing looseleafs.  I still have very nostalgic memories of these activities as being incredibly cathartic and meditative.  I’ve worked in public and academic libraries for the last 20+ years.  I earned my master in library science (MLS) from Rutgers State University and my juris doctor (JD) from CUNY School of Law.  Most recently, I worked as an administrator in the California State University system, where I was the director of academic services at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at San Jose State University.  Prior to that I was the program coordinator and librarian for foreign, comparative and international law at Langdell Law Library of Harvard Law School, and at the turn of the 21st century I was a reference librarian and lecturer-in-law at the Diamond Law Library of Columbia Law School.  Having traversed the country twice, I truly feel like a pilgrim having arrived at the Mecca of libraries.

How would you describe your job to other people?

This is the most difficult question in this interview, because it is very difficult to explain librarianship to those outside the profession and now the added complexities of the Library of Congress, and my role here as the deputy law librarian for collections, makes it even more challenging.  The Global Legal Collections Directorate is everything under the hood of the one of a kind machinery that is the Law Library of Congress.  We acquire, maintain and make accessible the largest law collection in the world.  I explained to my mom, who is in her 80s, that I get to work at the largest library in the world and have the privilege and honor to be surrounded by some of the most brilliant and dedicated professionals.  She and I are on the same page that I’m truly blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity and it’s a humbling experience.

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

Because this library is truly not just a national treasure, but a world treasure.  I wish every librarian could have a chance to experience the remarkable scale of everything accomplished within these walls–it should be a pillar, a prerequisite if you will, of earning one’s MLS degree.  I am still awestruck and can’t believe I get to be a part of this.  It is invigorating and exhausting at the same time, to be here, and I have enjoyed every minute thus far.  The first time I was in the stacks, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.

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

I take back my earlier response about the third question being the hardest.

The Law Library is very much dependent on our colleagues across Library of Congress to accomplish everything that we do.  I want to express my gratitude, especially to our colleagues in the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate, which has an entire law unit independent of the Law Library to catalog our acquisitions.  Oh, and there is an “incunabula overflow” in our special collections. If that is not unique and impressive on its own, I don’t know what is.

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

Once upon a time, I was an internal auditor for ISO-9000 at a manufacturing plant that was a supplier of insulation for electric cables and aircrafts.  They paid for my MLS!

Categories: Research & Litigation

The Home of General Gates & the Plot to Remove Washington as Commander In Chief – Pic of the Week

Tue, 12/03/2019 - 8:30am

This is the home of Continental Army General Horatio Gates, which is located in downtown York, Pennsylvania. The structure to the left is a colonial-era tavern.

The home of Continental Army Major General Horatio Gates, located in York, PA. Photo by Robert Brammer.

In what is now referred to as the “Conway Cabal,” Gates was championed by General Thomas Conway as a replacement for George Washington as commander in chief following Gates’ victory over British General John Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga and Washington’s defeats at Brandywine and Germantown. Conway was initially passed over for promotion to major general by Congress due to Washington’s opposition to his selection. Conway, in association with other senior Continental Army officers, encouraged Gates’ ambitions to become commander in chief and denigrated Washington’s abilities in letters that were forwarded to Congress.

Washington received copies of these letters and questioned Gates and Conway about them, which led to an apology by Gates and a duplicitous apology by Conway. After the plot was exposed, congressional support for replacing Washington as commander in chief waned. As a result of his criticism against Washington, Conway became engaged in a duel with Brigadier General John Cadwalader on July 4, 1778, in which Conway was shot in the mouth, with the bullet exiting through his head. The severity of the wound led Conway to believe he would die, and, in contemplation of his death, he wrote a more contrite letter of apology to Washington that is copied below. Courtesy of a transcript from the National Archives, the letter reads,

Philadelphia the 23d July 1778


I find my self just able to hold the penn During a few Minutes, and take this opportunity of expressing my sincere grief for having Done, Written, or said any thing Disagreeable to your excellency. my carreer will soon be over, therefore justice and truth prompt me to Declare my Last sentiments. you are in my eyes the great and the good Man. May you Long enjoy the Love, Veneration and Esteem of these states whose Libertys you have asserted by your Virtues. I am With the greatest respect sir your Excellency’s Most obedt humble Servant

Ths Conway

Conway survived, and later rejoined the French army, but due to his support for the royalists, he was forced to leave France and died in exile.

Major General Thomas Conway’s Letter of Apology to Washington, July 23, 1778. George Washington Papers. Library of Congress Manuscripts Division.

Categories: Research & Litigation

10th Anniversary of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 9:30am

On December 1, 2009—10 years ago yesterday—the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EU Charter) became legally binding when the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force. The EU Charter contains civil and political, as well as economic and social rights. Its six chapters cover dignity, freedoms, equality, solidarity, citizens’ rights, and justice. The EU Charter generally only binds the institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies of the European Union (EU) and applies to the Member States only when they are implementing EU law. (EU Charter, art. 51.) The EU Charter therefore only complements the national legislation and does not replace it.

European Union flags. Photo by Flickr user Thijs ter Haar. May 23, 2014. Used under Creative Commons license,

Applicable Law

Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) provides that:

The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

Article 6, paragraph 1 TEU states:

The Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000, as adapted at Strasbourg, on 12 December 2007, which shall have the same legal value as the Treaties.


The European Council, in its meeting on June 3-4, 1999, concluded that “at the present stage of development of the European Union, the fundamental rights applicable at Union level should be consolidated in a Charter and thereby made more evident.” It adopted a decision stating that “[t]here appears to be a need…to establish a Charter of fundamental rights in order to make their overriding importance and relevance more visible to the Union’s citizens.” A body called the Convention was set up to draft a text. There was, however, disagreement between the Member States and the European institutions over what the legal status of the proposed document should be. As a compromise, the EU Charter was not initially integrated into the EU Treaties. It was officially proclaimed at the meeting of the European Council in Nice in 2000, but “the question of the Charter’s force [was to] be considered later.” The issue of the legal status of the EU Charter was taken up again in the discussions leading up to the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe. The Constitution included the EU Charter as Part II. However, as the Constitution was never adopted, because France and the Netherlands each rejected it in a referendum, the EU Charter remained nonbinding. It was not until the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force in 2009, that the EU Charter became a binding legal document.

Relationship to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

All EU Member States are party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The fact that the EU Charter became a binding legal document did not make the ECHR obsolete. Rather, the TEU provides that:

Fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, shall constitute general principles of the Union’s law. (TEU, art. 6, para. 3. Emphasis added.)

Likewise, the EU Charter states that:

Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as restricting or adversely affecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognised, in their respective fields of application, by Union law and international law and by international agreements to which the Union or all the Member States are party, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and by the Member States’ constitutions. (EU Charter, art. 53. Emphasis added.)

In so far as this Charter contains rights which correspond to rights guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the meaning and scope of those rights shall be the same as those laid down by the said Convention. This provision shall not prevent Union law providing more extensive protection. (EU Charter, art. 52, para. 3. Emphasis added.)

Furthermore, the TEU includes a mandate for the EU to join the ECHR. (TEU, art. 6, para. 3.)

Application and Awareness of the EU Charter

Each year, the European Commission publishes a report on the application of the EU Charter. The latest report found that even though references to the EU Charter by the Court of Justice of the European Union and by national courts have increased, the EU Charter is “still not used to its full potential,” especially at national level. In 2019, a Eurobarometer survey was published in conjunction with the report to determine whether EU citizens were aware of the EU Charter. The survey found that only four in ten respondents had heard of the EU Charter, and of those, only 12% say that they know what it is. Six in ten respondents would like to have more information about the content of the EU Charter and what to do when their rights are violated.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) was established in 2007 as a decentralized EU agency. One of its main tasks is to communicate and raise rights awareness. To that end, it has created an online tool that provides information on and access to case law, law references, explanations, and FRA publications for each article of the EU Charter.

Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Bailey DeSimone, Library Technician (Metadata)

Wed, 11/27/2019 - 8:55am

Today’s interview is with Bailey DeSimone, a Library Technician (Metadata) in the Digital Resources Division of the Law Library of Congress.

                                           Bailey DeSimone. Photo by Geraldine Davila Gonzalez

What is your academic/professional history?

I received my bachelor’s degrees in history and global studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From my second week of classes as a first-year to my final week of exams as a senior, I was a student assistant in the North Carolina Collection of the Louis Round Wilson Library, where I contributed to several collection research projects. I was inspired by the library community to pursue a career in what I love most – asking and answering questions.

I have since been fortunate enough to meet and work alongside archival and research teams at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the Council on Foreign Relations. I am a member of the Digital Resources Division of the Law Library as of this year, and am grateful that I ended up falling into the library world as naturally as I did.

How would you describe your job to other people?

I create, analyze, and apply data about data. I am currently collaborating with my team to digitize the United States Congressional Serial Set. On a normal day, I evaluate the volumes of the Serial Set (reports, maps, charts, illustrations, and all) for completion, generate reports to identify outstanding issues, and draft content focused on relevant historical legal events mentioned in the Serial Set.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

I am interested in the history and application of law. My aspiration is to engage communities with the information that essentially governs our lives, and destigmatize the question, “I don’t know,” by creating new approaches to information. The Law Library is home to a vast amount of domestic and foreign legislative history, and I believe that it is important that patrons of all backgrounds find these resources accessible. The Library’s Digital Strategy inspires me to continue developing my own knowledge while remaining aware of new challenges that come with incorporating digital technology into libraries.

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

The existence of the Serial Set itself intrigued me – as someone who primarily studied international and comparative policy, a glimpse into U.S. legislative history was refreshing. I had absolutely no idea about the nature of the arguments (both for and against) key legislative issues, including international copyright law, granting citizenship to immigrants, and women’s suffrage in U.S. history. I’ve learned an incredible amount about the various approaches to interpreting legal texts.

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

I was a member of a hip-hop dance team for two years and took classes when I was studying abroad at the Freie Universität Berlin for a summer. Definitely the most unexpected moment of my life so far was choreographing and teaching my own class, but that also made it the most memorable.

Categories: Research & Litigation

New Report Examines Legal Status of Military Draft and Enforcement in Israel

Tue, 11/26/2019 - 8:54am

Israel has gone through two national elections in 2019: the first on April 9, 2019, and the second merely five and a half months later on September 17, 2019. To date, no government has been formed and there is a possibility that a third election will take place. I have previously blogged about this unprecedented course of events, the Israeli parliamentary system, and the need to form a coalition government.

But what prompted the coalition crisis that ended the tenure of the 34th government prematurely on December 27, 2018, and brought about the first 2019 election?

According to the Israel Democracy Institute,

The formal explanation for the early Knesset dissolution was the governing coalition’s inability to obtain a majority to push forward legislation that would authorize a proposed solution for the never-ending issue of ultra-Orthodox [Haredi] military service. This was also the reason behind the failure of the coalition talks after the elections: Lieberman opposed any compromise regarding the draft law. [Link added.]  

The government ended its term in accordance with the Twentieth Knesset Dispersion Law, 5779-2018. This Law provided for the dissolution of the 20th Knesset (Israel’s parliament) before the end of its term of office, and for elections for the 21st Knesset to be held on April 9. (Id.) Subsequently, after negotiations to form a coalition government failed, the Twenty-first Knesset Dispersion Law, 5779-2019 was passed on May 29, and new elections were scheduled for September 17, 2019.

Source: Susan Taylor, Law Library of Congress, based on information contained in Asaf Malchi, The “People’s Army?”, Israel Democracy Inst. (Oct. 16, 2018).

A November 2019 Law Library of Congress report, Israel: Military Draft Law and Enforcement, provides legal background on general conscription law in Israel and on exemptions from the draft that have traditionally been extended to two main groups: Israeli Arabs and Haredi Jews. The report lays out a chronology of the evolution of what is referred to above as “the never-ending issue of ultra-Orthodox military service” until the date of publication. This report updates a March 2012 Law Library of Congress report, Israel: Supreme Court Decision Invalidating the Law on Haredi Military Draft Postponement, which analyzes different arrangements and legislative attempts to regulate the issue, culminating with the February 2012 decision by Israel’s Supreme Court that found the existing law at that time unconstitutional (HCJ 6298/07 Ressler v. the Knesset).

In a 2017 decision, the Supreme Court overturned the latest amendment law that had governed the draft deferments of Haredi at that time, which often resulted in full exemptions. The Court reached its decision based on a determination that the law harmed the principle of equality and violated the constitutional right to dignity of those who “were obliged to serve in the military.” (HC 1877/14 Movement for Quality Government in Israel v. Knesset, para. 42.) To allow time to prepare for the consequences of the cancellation of the arrangement established by the law, the Court voided it effective one year from the date of the judgment, namely, from September 12, 2018.

Source: Susan Taylor, Law Library of Congress, based on information contained in Asaf Malchi, The “People’s Army?”, Israel Democracy Inst. (Oct. 16, 2018). To see in better resolution, please click on image.

A new draft bill providing different draft arrangements for Haredi men was introduced by the government on July 2, 2018, but has not passed. (Draft Bill for Integration of Yeshiva Students (Defense Service Amendment No. 25), 5778-2018, Hatsaot Hok Hamemshala (Government Bills) No. 1238 p. 1005.) The September 12, 2018, deadline determined by the Court has therefore passed with no new legislation adopted on the subject.

At present, in the absence of any law regulating the Haredi’s exemption from military service, it appears that they are legally subject to the draft. As military draft enforcement is one of the issues awaiting resolution in ongoing negotiations for the formation of a new coalition government, developments are expected in the near future.

We invite you to review the information provided in the November 2019 as well as the March 2012 reports on Israeli conscription law and enforcement. You can search the Current Legal Topics or Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports under terms such as “Armed Forces” and “Elections and Campaign Finance” for additional reports from the Law Library on similar topics. For legal news from Israel, you may search the Law Library’s Global Legal Monitor. To receive alerts when new reports or articles are published, you can subscribe to email updates and RSS feed (click the “subscribe” button on the Law Library’s website).

Categories: Research & Litigation

Construction of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Mon, 11/25/2019 - 7:39am

Canal Boat along the towpath (National Park Service)

One of our contractors, Jeremy Gainey, found a random volume of the Laws of the Corporation of the City of Washington passed by the first-[sixty-eighth] Council in the stacks. The book in question is from the Twenty-Sixth Council held in 1928-1929.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly may recall that I really enjoy looking though old D.C. material.  So of course I was going to peruse the index of this volume.

Lo and behold, the first thing to jump out at me were several entries under Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O Canal), including committee of arrangement for commencement of.

This small volume (75 pages) has at least a dozen laws and resolutions dealing with the C&O Canal, covering everything from the costs of the groundbreaking ceremony to issuing stock for the Canal Company to determining the endpoints of the canal itself.

The canal was originally designed to connect the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River, an idea which George Washington first conceived of with the Patowmack Company, and the canal at Great Falls, Virginia.

Laws of the Corporation of the City of Washington, passed by the Twenty-Sixth Council, p. 60-61 (1929). Photo by Betty Lupinacci.

Chapter 102, pictured above, designated July 4, 1828 as the date for the groundbreaking.  President John Quincy Adams dug the first spadeful in a ceremony held at Little Falls, Maryland. An unfortunate side note for the canal – July 4, 1828 was also the date that construction began on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, a venture that would make the canal all but obsolete before construction was completed.

Chapter 104, also pictured, sets the end of the canal at the “Eastern Branch of the Potomac.” Later that year it was determined that the exact location would be “in a basin to be formed at Seventeenth street west…” (Chapter 105.)

The length and location of the canal changed greatly over the years until its completion in 1850, never making it past Cumberland, Maryland. 



Categories: Research & Litigation

Human Rights Day Panel Discussion: The Impact of the Women’s Suffrage Movement Today

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 12:07pm

Panelists (left to right): Corrine McConnaughy and Elaine Weiss (photo by Nina Subin)

On Tuesday, December 10, 2019, the Law Library of Congress will commemorate Human Rights Day with a discussion on the women’s suffrage movement and how it impacts women’s rights today.

Each year the Law Library of Congress celebrates Human Rights Day with a panel discussion focusing on the understanding and recognition of a critical social, economic, or cultural human rights issue. In previous years, the Law Library has hosted a number of Human Rights Day events that highlight various aspects of this topic, including Repatriating Native American Cultural Property and Remains, Human Rights in Eastern Europe, Islamic Law reform, bioethics, and the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons.

Colleen Shogan, the assistant deputy librarian of the Library Collections and Services Group and the Library’s representative on the Congressional Suffrage Centennial Commission, will moderate the discussion. The panelists will include Corrine McConnaughy, author and associate professor of political science at The George Washington University and Elaine Weiss, journalist and author.

Corrine McConnaughy is an associate professor of political science at The George Washington University. She holds a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan, and has previously held faculty positions at the University of Texas at Austin, The Ohio State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research is largely focused on the conduct and consequences of identity politics, with emphasis on the roles race and gender play in American politics, and on the development of political institutions. She is the author of a book on the partisan and coalitional politics of women’s voting rights, entitled The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment. Her research has appeared in a range of academic journals including the American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Politics & Gender, Studies in American Political Development, and American Politics Research.  She is an occasional contributor to the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog and regularly writes and comments on gender and race issues in politics for other media outlets, including Vox, the New York TimesHuffPostPBS, and CNN.

Elaine Weiss is a Baltimore-based journalist and author, whose feature writing has been recognized with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, and her byline has appeared in many national publications, as well as in reports for National Public Radio. Her long-form writing garnered a Pushcart Prize “Editor’s Choice” award, and she is a MacDowell Colony Fellow. Weiss’ new book, The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote has critical acclaim from the New York Times, Wall St. Journal, and The New Yorker, among others, hailed as a “riveting, nail-biting political thriller” with powerful parallels to today’s political environment. She has presented talks about the book and the woman suffrage movement at the Library of Congress, National Archives, New York Historical Society, and many other venues. The Woman’s Hour was a finalist for the 2019 Chautauqua Prize and won the American Bar Association‘s highest honor, the 2019 Silver Gavel Award. Steven Speilberg’s Amblin production company has optioned the book for adaptation, with Hillary Rodham Clinton serving as executive producer.

The Shall Not Be Denied Exhibition viewing will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the panel discussion will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 10, LJ-119, Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The program is free and open to the public. While tickets are not required, registration is not a guarantee of admission. Seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

We hope you can join us for the event. Register at

Please request ADA accommodations 5 business days in advance at 202-707-6362 or

Categories: Research & Litigation

Chief Standing Bear and His Landmark Civil Rights Case

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 1:03pm

The National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol has a number of statues of indigenous Americans—Will Rogers, Kamehameha I, Washakie, Po’pay, Sequoyah, Sakakawea, and the newest—Chief Standing Bear, just donated to the hall by Nebraska and installed in September 2019. If a legal scholar wanted to study an inspiring legal figure for Native American Heritage Month, Standing Bear is a great historical candidate.

             Statue of Chief Standing Bear, National Statuary Hall [photo by Geraldine Dávila González]

Chief Standing Bear (Ma-chú-nu-zhe) was the leader of a band of about 82 Ponca people, living near the banks of the Niobrara River.  With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, Eastern farmers were eyeing the cheap land that the government was planning to put on offer. The indigenous tribes, including the Ponca, were being urged to sell up and remove themselves to “Indian Territory”.

In 1876, the U.S. government told the Ponca they were being moved to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). The Ponca did not like the lands assigned to them in Indian Territory, and decided to return to their traditional homelands. However, the U.S. government had other ideas, and, “[w]hen the 8 Ponca chiefs reached their homeland, they found that since the Ponca had refused to go to Indian Territory of their own free will, a government order had been issued on 12 April 1877 to force their removal. Federal troops were called in to enforce the removal orders, and by May 1877, the Ponca had begun their forced migration to “the hot country.”

The trip was grueling for the Ponca, and on the way, Standing Bear’s wife, Shines White, and his daughter, Prairie Flower, died, as did many in the party. Shortly after their arrival in Oklahoma, Standing Bear’s oldest son Bear Shield died. Ponca historians say that Standing Bear was “unwilling” to bury his son in Oklahoma. Standing Bear and a party of his people traveled some 600 miles in the middle of winter back to Nebraska and their traditional lands with his son’s body, intending to bury Bear Shield (Starita, 130). However, the U.S. government would not allow the Ponca to leave Indian Territory without permission. The Secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz ordered General George Crook of the U.S. Army to arrest and return Chief Standing Bear and his party to Indian Territory.

After Crook caught up with Standing Bear and his people, Crook imprisoned them in Fort Omaha Barracks. There was a groundswell of public sympathy for Standing Bear and his people, given the reason he left and his recent past practice of staying in one place and farming. A federal judge with relevant experience, Elmer Dundy, agreed to hear the attorneys representing Standing Bear, John L. Webster and Andrew J. Poppleton, who asked him to grant a writ of habeas corpus. Ultimately, Dundy did so. Standing Bear’s case, United States, ex rel. Standing Bear, v. George Crook, started in May 1879. The U.S. government argued, “that [Standing Bear] was neither a citizen, nor a person, so he could not sue the government.”  Standing Bear’s lawyers argued that under the Fourteenth Amendment, Standing Bear and his fellow Ponca were both citizens and people and entitled to the same constitutional rights as other citizens of the United States. Judge Dundy’s opinion fundamentally agreed with their argument; he wrote, “That an Indian is a PERSON within the meaning of the laws of the United States…”

   Standing Bear (Ponca) Quote from his Testimony on Pedestal [photo by Geraldine Dávila González]

The judge released Standing Bear and his people, and they returned to their lands by the Niobrara. Standing Bear finally buried his son there. Scholars have compared the case in its civil rights impact to the Dred Scott decision and to Brown v. Board of Education (Starita, 146, and Nagle, 456). Native American history is American history, and Chief Standing Bear’s pursuit of his freedom is a landmark point in that story.


E99.P7 S837 2009  Starita, Joe.  “I am a man” : Chief Standing Bear’s journey for justice.

E99.P7 S833 2004  Dando-Collins, Stephen.  Standing Bear is a person : the true story of a Native American’s quest for justice.

E99.P7 H43 2020 Headman, Louis. Walks on the ground : a tribal history of the Ponca nation.

E99.P7 M17 2003 Mathes, Valerie Sherer. The Standing Bear controversy : prelude to Indian reform.

E99.P7 S836 2013  Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk. Standing Bear of the Ponca.

KF228.S78 T5  Tibbles, Thomas Henry. The Ponca chiefs;  an account of the trial of Standing Bear. Edited with an introd. by Kay Graber.

KF228.S78 T54 1995  Tibbles, Thomas Henry, 1840-1928. Standing Bear and the Ponca Chiefs.

E77 .V59 2019  Vizenor, Gerald Robert.  Native provenance : the betrayal of cultural creativity.

Thomas Henry Tibbles Papers “Standing Bear vs. Crook: Argument of G.M. Lambertson, 1879” (Box 2, Folder 07).

Categories: Research & Litigation

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

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 9:30am

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Research & Litigation

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

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 9:30am

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

Picture by Susan Taylor-Pikulsky.

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Research & Litigation

Rare Book Video – The Articles of Confederation

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 8:30am

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

Categories: Research & Litigation

Highlights of the 2019 Columbus Day Open House

Thu, 11/14/2019 - 3:39pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Research & Litigation

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

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 3:08pm

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

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

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

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

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

Read her full biography in the press release.



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

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

Tue, 11/12/2019 - 5:13pm

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

Enhancements for November 2019

Below are the new enhancements for this release.

Enhancement – Senate Amendments – Withdrawn Cosponsors

  • Withdrawn cosponsors are now displayed on Senate Amendments.

Enhancement – Search Results – Accessibility

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

Visit our Enhancements page for all the updates to

Search Tip

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

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

Here’s another helpful new Committee Schedule feature:

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

Switching between Compact and Expanded on the Weekly Committee Schedule

Most-Viewed Bills

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

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

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

Categories: Research & Litigation


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