DOMA Decision by the First Circuit

This morning, the First Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, ruling that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.

The Court concluded, “Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress’ denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest.”

Section 3 defines “marriage” under federal law as “only a legal union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife” and “spouse” as a person of the opposite sex. Section 3 thus denies married same-sex couples numerous rights and benefits under federal law.

The decision today did not address DOMA’s section 2, which authorizes states to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages from Massachusetts and other states that permit them.

The First Circuit’s decision addressed the proper level of scrutiny to apply in reviewing the federal statute, and summarized its analysis:

Although our decision discusses equal protection and federalism concerns separately, it concludes that governing precedents under both heads combine–not to create some new category of “heightened scrutiny” for DOMA under a prescribed algorithm, but rather to require a closer than usual review based in part of discrepant impact among married couples and in part on the importance of state interests in regulating marriage. Our decision then test the rationales offered for DOMA, taking account of Supreme Court precedent limiting which rationales can be counted and of the force of certain rationales.

The unanimous decision was written by Judge Michael Boudin, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush. Boudin’s decision was joined by Chief Judge Sandra Lynch (appointed by President Clinton) and Judge Juan Torruella (appointed by President Reagan). Judges Lynch and Torruella are both alumni of Boston University School of Law.

The Court affirmed the decision of U.S. District Court judge Joseph Tauro.


Looking for IP Resources? Check Out IntelliConnect!

IntelliConnect, which you can access from the library’s e-resources A-Z list, has always been a great resource for IP secondary resources.  The library recently purchased additional electronic titles to be added to the IP library, so in addition to IP news and current awareness sources, you can also consult treatises, like Goldstein on Copyright, online.  The IP library also contains relevant CFR titles and statutes.  Once you’ve researched your client’s matter, use the form books to draft a license agreement or patent claims.  The resources in this library are updated at least annually and are accessible wherever you have Internet access (using your BU username and password).


Need an alternative to Westlaw or Lexis? Try LoislawConnect, our newest database addition.

One of the ironies of the law school experience is that while you have unlimited access to Westlaw and Lexis as a law student you will  likely have much more limited access once you enter the working world.

LoislawConnect is an alternative which you may find useful in practice—or this Summer while clerking!

The Pappas Law Library has just recently added this database to our extensive collection.  The collection includes primary law as well as secondary sources as well as Massachusetts’  Bar publications. It also has LawWatch, an alerting service, as well as GlobalCite, a citator tool both of which can be used to keep current.  To download the Quick Reference card to get started, click here.


SJC Decides When Forum Selection Clauses Violate the Massachusetts Wage Act

Last week, the Supreme Judicial Court decided Melia v. Zenhire, Inc., 462 Mass. 164 (2012).  The plaintiff, a Massachusetts resident employed in Massachusetts, argued that the forum selection clause in his employment contract, which designated Erie County Court in New York, was an “illegal special contract” that violated the Massachusetts Wage Act.  The Court held that this particular forum selection clause was not an illegal special contract under the statute because under New York choice-of-law principles, Massachusetts law (the Wage Act) would be applied.  The Court did, however, describe when a forum selection clause would violate the Massachusetts Wage Act:

  1. the employee’s claim was covered by the Wage Act
  2. the forum state court would not apply Massachusetts law and
  3. the law the forum state court would apply would deprive the employee of a substantive right guaranteed by the Wage Act.

For more information on this case, see this post by Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP.


Summer Reading

As finals and papers come to a close, you might actually have some time to get around to reading those interesting books you saw during the semester.  In case you’re not sure what to read, I’ve provided some suggestions below.  Some are law-related, but there are many titles that are not.  Reading non-legal books can actually improve your law school performance because when you read a book you’re really interested in, you are increasing your attention span and in-depth reading skills (two things we all need to work on to counteract the effects of our online reading habits).

To see the list,  Continue reading “Summer Reading”


Poetry Contest Winners

The winners of the National Library Week turn your favorite opinion into a poem contest are in: Max Lee and Priya-Alika Elias.


The Ballad of Robert L. Brock

by Maximilian Lee

based on Brock v. Angelone, 105 F.3d 952 (4th Cir. 1997).

Locked away in a Virginia prison,

With all the time to complain in derision

Robert Lee Brock did just that, bringing dozens of 1983 suits

The trial judges ruled the cases were frivolous

They cried what a crock!

But this would not deter the unique Mr. Brock.

No extra meat meant cruel & unusual punishment, he maintained!

Poisoned by pancake syrup is just another one of his claims,

Which included a suit against himself!

For violating his own civil rights and religious beliefs

By drinking too much and committing bad deeds.

It sounds like a hug is all he needs.


Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966), in the style of P.G. Wodehouse by Priya-Alika Elias

You know the tale. A drunken feller

(who went by the unfortunate name of Schmerber)

got into a rather gory

car crash – long story –

but the chappie said he was sober!

So the jolly old doc at the hospital took

A blood sample to see if they were mistook –

And by Jove, it turned out

There never was a doubt –

That S was soused, the crook.

“ Hold on,”  he yelped.  “I RESENT

This violation of my 4th Amendment

Rights! The 5th, too…


…he lost. Remember, kiddies, cops can do anything. THE END.


I’m Starting My Summer Job in 2 Weeks and I Wish I Knew More About _________ Law

Whether you’re filling in the blank with securities, health care, or foreign, the library’s got you covered.  Our research guides include information not only on the primary law in a given area, but the invaluable secondary sources as well.  Find out the title of the main treatise in your area, and the table of contents will provide you an outline of the major issues.  You might also want to check out the ABA’s Blawg Directory to find blawgs that will alert you of the latest developments in an area of law.

Best of luck this summer, and remember that if you run into trouble, don’t be afraid to ask a librarian (here or at your place of employment) for help!


Questions about Summer?

Can I access Lexis and Westlaw this summer?  What if I need to use the library but can’t come during summer hours?  These and other questions about using library resources over the summer are answered in this FAQ.