Thursday, October 9, 2014

New Resource for Federal Legislative History Research


The Law Library recently subscribed to ProQuest's Legislative Insight, an excellent tool for legislative research at the federal level.  Legislative Insight includes legislative history documentation related to major laws passed between 1789-1928 and over 27,000 legislative histories related to public laws enacted from 1929-present.

The legislative histories consist of PDF versions of CRS reports, presidential signing statements, House and Senate reports, the Congressional Record, and other congressional publications preceding the enactment of U.S. Public Laws.  These histories are fully searchable by keyword, publication type, and citation.  Each list of legislative documents pertaining to a public law can be sorted chronologically or by publication type.  These functions greatly assist the researcher in sorting through a large quantity of documents.

This database is well organized, but if you have questions or would like an overview, please contact one of the Law Library's reference librarians for assistance.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesdays Around the World: New Foreign & International Law Research Tool

The library recently subscribed to JustCite, a British electronic legal research platform that should make researching international and select foreign legal authorities a lot easier.

JustCite is a legal research platform that serves as a finding aid for foreign and international legal authorities including cases, legislation, and scholarly articles. The platform indexes materials from the United Kingdom, member states of the British Commonwealth, Ireland, Hong Kong, the European Union, and select international bodies, such as the International Court of Justice, which may then be searched by keyword or by certain fields via the advanced search. All results returned will feature full citations, with links out to the full text of many of the documents. Regardless of whether a full-text link is available, JustCite also provides researchers with lists of citations to authorities that cite a given legal authority. In this way, researchers may build a robust repertoire of foreign and international legal authorities on a single topic.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

New Titles from September 2014

Check out our Featured Acquisitions page for September 2014 to see the new titles in the Law Library last month!

A few sample titles:

And a sampling of the new DVDs:

A selection of our new titles can be found on our "New Books" display atop the reference section in the library lobby.  Enjoy your browsing!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Wednesdays Around the World: Baltic States

Earlier this week, the United States sent a heavily armored tank brigade to deploy across the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The deployment, though probably largely symbolic, seeks to reassure the Baltic states and Poland, all of whom are members of NATO and all of whom are becoming increasingly nervous about a newly aggressive Russia after Russia's annexation of Crimea and suspected intervention elsewhere in Ukraine.



While Western nations have sanctioned Russia over its Ukrainian adventures, Russian interference with a NATO member would have much more dire consequences. After all, NATO is probably the world's most well-known collective security organization, and Article 5 of the NATO Charter provides that an attack against one NATO member shall be considered an attack against all and obligates all members to respond with military force.

Throughout history, Article 5 has been invoked a total of once (following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which accounts for NATO's continuing presence in Afghanistan), but it would be difficult to see how a Russian incursion into the Baltics would result in anything other than either World War Three or a complete repudiation of the United Nations collective security system.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week!

This week is Banned Books Week, an annual festival dear to librarians hearts. The annual observance of banned books week seeks to draw attention to the perils of censorship and to the value of the freedom of information. For more information on Banned Books Week, check out the law library's Banned Books Display in the Quiet Room downstairs!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Banjo: Deadly Weapon or Dangerous Instrument?

Kentucky Digest. Image credit: Ryan Valentin
Duel challenge between brothers in Pulaski County leads to filing of charges read a recent headline in the Lexington Herald-Leader. According to the article, "Rodney Abbott called his mother on the day of the incident and told her to meet him at James Abbott's home 'if she wanted to see him alive again.' And went on to say, "[t]hey got into it because their mother had broken up with her boyfriend of 17 years, and Rodney actually thought James caused that...[h]e was pretty hot."

The Constitution of Kentucky oath of officers and attorneys contains the following language:

“…and I do further solemnly swear (or affirm) that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God.”

A few years ago a call to delete the dueling provision in the state oath of office was made. From NPR’s Kentucky Duels Over Oath Of Office, Louisville state Rep. Darryl Owens was quoted as saying, “One of the problems when you have people from out of state, and I’ve had it at some swearing-in ceremonies that I’ve been to, they look at you like you’re crazy, what are you talking about…[i]t perpetuates that image of Kentucky as being backward.” In opposition to the proposal, former governor State Sen. Julian Carroll noted “[i]t is a part of the history of this great commonwealth, and I don’t think that we ought to make any changes with respect to the reflection of that history.”

Some citizens, concerned the language would vanish from the oath wrote to Sen. Carroll:

“I am contacting you today regarding the proposed amendment [HB 36] to Section 228 of the Constitution of Kentucky.

The recent trend towards the globalization and homogenization of culture manifests itself in a variety of forms.  Removal of the dueling language from Section 228 is one step closer to losing part of our great Kentucky heritage.  Just as bourbon, horses, and bluegrass music are hallmarks of the Commonwealth, so too is the language in Section 228. 

Although the “snickering” upon utterance of the dueling language can be a distraction to a dignified ceremony, to suggest the language “harm[s] efforts to bring business to the state” is too great a leap in logic for constituents to make.  The dueling language does not perpetuate the “image of Kentucky as being backward” but rather as a fascinating place.  If the perception of Kentucky as “backward” is a genuine concern, addressing the “Kentucky uglies” - “high rates of diabetes, lung cancer, illiteracy and poverty” - would be time better spent.        

Our collective past experience with “dueling as dispute resolution” is part of the historical fabric that makes Kentuckians interesting and unique.  I support your assertion that the dueling provision is “a part of the history of this great commonwealth” and we should not “make any changes with respect to the reflection of that history.” 

Thank you for speaking out in opposition to this amendment.”

If the opportunity presents itself, will the Pulaski County brothers ever be able to take the oath of officers and attorneys? Although the Herald-Leader article noted "a citation filed in the case does not include the word "duel" the language prohibiting participation in a duel is broad.

What about the bigger issue here? Although both terms are defined under the KRS, the language in the oath appears to be limited to dueling with “deadly weapons” and not "dangerous instruments". Still the question remains, may any citizen of the Commonwealth who directly participates, sends or accepts a challenge, acts as a second, aids or assists any person in a contest of dueling banjos be free to take the oath with a clear conscience? 

  


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesdays Around the World: Whither Scotland?

Tomorrow, the Scottish people head to the polls to vote on whether Scotland should leave the U.K. to form an independent country. Currently, the vote remains too close to call, and each side of the issue are holding massive rallies today as a final push.

Were Scotland to leave the U.K., it would be a reversal of more than four centuries' history. James VI of Scotland assumed the throne of England as James I in 1603, uniting the two nations through a "personal union." The unification of the separate states into Great Britain (via the Acts of Union of 1707), and later into the United Kingdom (after Ireland was added in 1800), only strengthened the bond between England and Scotland. (Ireland, except for the northern bit, later left the U.K. for independence in 1922.) Now, that unity sits at a precipice.

Scottish secession would also affect the unification efforts of the European Union, as at least one member state's government has publicly stated that Scotland would need to reapply for membership in the E.U. if it separates from the U.K. All in all, tomorrow's decision may be the most momentous moment in British history since the end of World War Two and its accompanying period of decolonization.