Breaking News>>>>SCOTUS takes no action on 10 same-sex marriage cases pending before it…. For NOW.

From the SCOTUS law blog:

“No action on same-sex marriage
By Lyle Denniston on Nov 30, 2012 at 3:16 pm

The Supreme Court, after taking most of the day to prepare new orders, took no action Friday on the ten same-sex marriage cases now on the docket. It did agree to rule on whether taking a human gene out of the body is a process that can be patented. It also agreed to rule on legal protection for makers of generic drugs.

The next opportunity for the Court to issue orders will be at 9:30 a.m. Monday. Nothing has ruled out the possibility that some actions on same-sex marriage could be announced at that time, although there is no indation (sic) that that will occur. It may be that the Court needs more time to decide what it wants to do next on any of the cases.”


Help with Exams!

The library has lots of resources to help you prepare for exams.  All the study aids have been shelved together in the reserve section to provide easy access.  There are flashcards for civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal procedure, real property and torts behind the circulation desk.  There is a guide which covers all the various places where exam help and support are available.   We all wish you good luck on your exams.


This Year’s Best Law Blogs

This week, the ABA Journal released its annual Blawg 100, a selection of the best law-related blogs, in its December issue.

The list includes perennial favorites (such as Above the Law, SCOTUSBlog and the Volokh Conspiracy) and newer picks, e.g.CFPB Monitor, which tracks news related to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This year’s list includes a wide range of interests and purposes, from the widely informative (The BLT: The Blog of the Legal Times) to the very specific (crImmigration‘s beat is “the immigration consequences of criminal violations”), with titles for practitioners (Litigation & Trial) and students (The Girl’s Guide to Law School) alike.

Go through the alphabetical list or peruse by category. For legal humor, check out the”for fun” entries, including Lowering the Bar, ZombieLaw and the Supreme Court Haiku Reporter.

To take a deeper dive, consult the much more extensive ABA blawg directory, listing hundreds of blogs in dozens of categories. Or see our guide to law blogs.


Finding Legal Journal Abbreviations without the Bluebook

You have a source gathering assignment for your journal, and you know HeinOnline is the best place to go for legal articles.  You also know that instead of browsing through the journals, you can bring up your article quickly by using the Citation Navigator in the Law Journal Library.

However, the Citation Navigator requires you to type the correct abbreviation for your journal.  What do you do if you don’t have a Bluebook nearby?  HeinOnline has you covered with the Find Bluebook Citation link, which takes you to a list of abbreviations very similar to T13 in the Bluebook.  See below how to access this feature, which will allow you to complete source gathering more efficiently.


8: The Play

From the Office of Student Affairs:

Hi-On November 28, at 6:30 pm in the Boston University (BU) Law Auditorium, BU Law’s OutLaw, Family Law Association, and Office of Student Affairs proudly presents a one-night-only staged reading of “8: The Play,” by Dustin Lance Black, a dramatization of the Prop 8 trial. This production features BU Law students, staff, and faculty; other Boston law students; BU undergraduate students; and professionals in the LGBTQ field. The production is *free* but donations will be accepted at the door for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. The staged reading runs about 85 minutes with a talkback session immediately following the performance. A small panel of moderators will lead us in this discussion. Given the potential SCOTUS review, this play is a timely reflection on many of the legal and personal arguments supporting marriage equality.


Lexis Study Aids

LexisNexis offers study aids/outlines for the basic legal courses.  According to LN:

These outlines provide an overview of the essential topics of a legal subject and can be used to prepare for class, organize your notes, and study for exams. For comprehensive and treatise-like coverage of these and other legal subjects, see theUnderstanding series.

These Area of Law Outlines are now available for free viewing and downloading:

      Constitutional Law html | word (512k) | pdf (428k)
      Contracts html | word (548k) | pdf (334k)
      Criminal Law html | word (315k) | pdf (364k)
      Criminal Procedure html | word (772k) | pdf (256k)
      Evidence html | word (585k) | pdf (317k)
      Property html | word (275k) | pdf (381k)
      Torts html | word (448k) | pdf (425k)
      Trusts and Estates html | word (503k) | pdf (482k)

Researching Your Note or Seminar Paper

Writing a scholarly paper, even for a law school class, often requires resources other than cases and statutes. Come to the Researching Your Note or Seminar Paper class tomorrow, Tuesday, November 27th, from 1-2 PM in Room 334. We will talk about legal and interdisciplinary resources that can help you write a well-researched paper. Register here!  If you have any questions about this class, e-mail me at


Public shaming punishments…. When do judges go too far?

The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

This prohibition has been interpreted to apply to the States as well as the Federal Government. SO, where do we draw the line when a punishment imposed seems to verge on cruel?

Does being forced to wear an idiot sign cross the line? Click HERE to read the article.


Harvard Law Review’s Supreme Court Issue

The Harvard Law Review has released its annual Supreme Court issue, and it features a debate that is sure to have a wide audience.

The lead piece, Foreward: Democracy and Disdain, by Pamela Karlan, provides a sharp critique of the conservative justices who predominate on the SCOTUS today. Karlan writes:

The Supreme Court’s 2011 Term illustrates the consequences of
dismissing democratic politics and democratic engagement in the articulation
of constitutional values. The problem is not fundamentally
that the Court overrides the choices of the people or their elected representatives.
Indeed, several of the most striking examples of judicial
disdain involve cases in which Justices voted to sustain the law being
challenged, or in which the Court was called upon to mediate a conflict
between different levels of government.65 Rather, the problem is
that the Court’s decisions convey a broad message about the democratic
process itself that may undermine public confidence in the democratic
process going forward. The Court’s dismissive treatment of
politics raises the question whether, and for how long, the people will
maintain their confidence in a Court that has lost its confidence in
them and their leaders.

An online forum features replies from Randy E. Barnett and Stephen G. Calibresi.

Also in the issue: A comment by Dean Martha Minnow on the health care decision, comments on many of the other leading cases from the Court’s 2011 Term and a statistical report on the Court’s work.


Researching the Law of Other States

You know Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg have laws for the various states, but what do you do when you need more specialized research, like state legislative history?  The availability of this kind of information varies from state to state, so it’s important to understand the situation in your particular state.  You can find out this information by looking at a state legal research handbook.  The library has research guides for many states, including Massachusetts, in the reading room.  Search for: [your state] legal research in the catalog to find the call number.  See below for an example search for a handbook on Vermont legal research.