The Marriage Cases, Post-Argument

The U.S. Supreme Court concluded oral arguments yesterday in the pair of cases on same-sex marriage that garnered much of the attention paid to law and legal issues this week. The transcripts and audio recordings are available for United States v. Windsor (here) and for Perry v. Hollingsworth (here).

Numerous reporters and commentators have weighed in with their observations, analyses and opinions. Some of the most interesting so far are from bloggers who write on law and public policy:

See also the exchange of views on SCOTUSBlog, with essays posted this morning by Gerard Bradley and John Bursch, with more to come.


It’s Peeptacular!


It’s that time of year again–the ABA’s 5th Annual Peeps in Law Contest is now open for voting.

Check them out and vote for your favorite legally-themed Peep diorama:

  • Citizens United vs. FEC
  • Motion in Lemonade
  • Oh the Peepanity!
  • Our Ship Has Come In…Again
  • Peepemptory Challenges
  • Peep-otus Taking the Oath

This may be only the 5th Annual Peeps in Law Contest, but Peeps themselves have been around for 60 years. Read the Resolution from the Pennsylvania Senate, recognizing the 60th anniversary of Peeps, and highlighting key events in Peep history.

Legal sweet tooth not satisfied? Read about actual Peeps in law, where a Boulder woman claims she was wrongfully evicted after she and her landlord got into a dispute over an Easter-themed Peeps diorama she had stuck to her apartment door, and she stopped paying rent in protest.




Power Searching Certification Class

(medical or medicinal) /s marijuana /s states

What will this search turn up?  Why would you want to use this search string instead of simply typing in your terms?  Learn the answers to these questions and more at the Power Searching Certification Class.  This class will be offered Tuesday (4/2), Thursday (4/4), and Friday (4/5) from 1-2 PM in Room 334.  Questions? Email me at


Certification Class: Alternatives to Lexis & Westlaw

ALW Graphic

Thinking about going solo or small(er) firm?

Got a summer public interest internship?

Come learn how to use some of the other legal research databases in our Alternatives to Lexis & Westlaw class, offered Monday, April 1 and Wednesday, April 3 at 1:00 PM and Friday, April 5 at 2:00 PM in Room 334.

Questions? Contact emric (at) bu (dot) edu.


Marriage Arguments at SCOTUS This Week

Since the case involving the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act last Term, no oral arguments before the Supreme Court have been more anticipated than those on the two same-sex marriage cases to be argued this week: United States v. Windsor, re the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA); and Hollingsworth v. Perry, re California’s Proposition 8.

The Court’s web site provides visitor information and a guide for those attending their first oral argument. But that can hardly prepare one for the scene at the Court on those days. The lines to attend the oral argument began forming last Thursday night and are made longer by those who are paid to stand in them, holding a place for others. By Tuesday morning, despite bad weather on Sunday and Monday, there likely will be many times more people in line than possibly could attend even a few minutes of oral argument. Thousands more will be there for demonstrations and rallies.

Why the huge interest in these arguments? Last November, before the Court had decided to hear the cases, SCOTUSBlog’s Tom Goldstein provided some historical context:

I have never before seen cases that I believed would be discussed two hundred years from now.  Bush v. Gore and Obamacare were relative pipsqueaks.  The government’s assertion of the power to prohibit a loving couple to marry, or to refuse to recognize such a marriage, is profound.  So is the opposite claim that five Justices can read the federal Constitution to strip the people of the power to enact the laws governing such a foundational social institution.

The cases present a profound test of the Justices’ judgment.  The plaintiffs’ claims are rooted in the fact that these laws rest on an irrational and invidious hatred, enshrined in law.  On the other hand, that describes some moral judgments.  The Constitution does not forbid every inequality, and the people must correct some injustices (even some grave ones) themselves, legislatively.

Surprising some observers, the Court decided to hear both cases. The briefs have been filed. Possible outcomes have been anticipated, assessed and predicted by many observers (for example: here, here, here and here) and diagrammed here. Of course, much speculation focuses on the roles of Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts.

The arguments will be extensively covered by traditional press and social media.  Although the Court has never allowed television cameras to show the Court’s proceedings, audio recordings will be made available at the Court’s web site within hours of the arguments. But it won’t be necessary to wait that long for initial reports. Among others, The New Yorker‘s Jeffrey Toobin reports that he’ll be live-tweeting from the Court.


LibX: BU Libraries in Your Browser


BU Law LibX is a browser extension for Firefox and Google Chrome that allows you to search library resources directly from your browser.

If you have a known item, you can use the LibX Toolbar to search for it without going to the library catalog:LibXBrowserSearch

Or highlight text on a webpage, right-click, and use LibX to search it as a keyword, subject, title or author.

If you find a book or article referenced online, highlight it and right-click to find it in our catalog:


LibX also embeds a “cue” on search results on New York Times Book Reviews, Amazon, Google Scholar, and other search engines if BU Libraries owns this item. Click on the BU Law button to access the catalog record for the item.


Download the toolbar at BU Law’s LibX page.

See how it works here.


Want to Spend this Summer at the SCOTUS Library?

You might be qualified for an internship at the Supreme Court library in the research department.  In addition to being open to library school students, the library will consider applicants who have completed one year of law school and have some library work experience.  The application deadline is next Friday, March 29th.  Learn more about this amazing opportunity here!


On “The Invisible War”

During the confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senators questioned Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel (since confirmed) about sexual assault in the U.S. military and the Defense Department’s response to date. There were references to “The Invisible War,” a documentary film that examines the prevalence of rape in the military, the treatment of service women and men who report being raped, and the continuing impact on survivors.

Concluding “[t]his is not a movie that can be ignored,” A.O. Scott wrote last June in the New York Times:

The Defense Department estimates that 22,800 violent sex crimes were committed in the military last year alone, and the filmmakers calculate that 1 in 5 women in military service has been the victim of sexual assault. “The Invisible War” presents other numbers, mostly from the military’s own records, that make the picture of pervasive abuse even more alarming. Many crimes are never reported — this is true of rape in civilian life as well as in the military — but among those that are, only a tiny fraction are dealt with in any meaningful way. A culture of impunity has flourished, and the film suggests that the military has mostly responded with pathetic attempts at prevention (through posters and public service announcements) and bureaucratic rituals of self-protection.

Reportedly after viewing “The Invisible War,” then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited with members of Congress and announced initiatives to change military policy.

“The Invisible War” has been widely reviewed  and acclaimed for its emotional impact and urgent importance. It has received numerous awards and an Academy Award nomination. Excerpts have been shown on PBS.  But it has had a limited cinematic release and has not been shown publicly in many areas.

The film’s web site provides information about how to see it, including select public screenings (including one at Simmons College on April 3) and its availability from (DVD) and for downloading via iTunes. Among other outlets, the film is available via Netflix, on DVD and for live-streaming.


Certification Class Special Edition: Massachusetts Legislative History


State legislative history can be notoriously difficult to find. Come learn what types of documents are available and where you can find them in a special certification class taught by Bette Siegel, the documents librarian at the State Library of Massachusetts.

This class will be held Thursday, March 21 at 1:00 PM in Room 1420. Please contact Ellen Richardson at emric (at) bu (dot) edu if you have any questions.




Extra! Extra! SCOTUS rules on discount textbook re-sales…..

In a 6-3 decision today, the Justices definitively settled a matter of concern and difficulty under the copyright laws of the US.  As reported on the, specifically the question answered, ” whether a U.S. copyright holder can prevent the importation of “gray-market” products manufactured for overseas markets?”  The case is: Kirtsaeng V. Wiley 

The facts of the case were compelling and showed a great degree of entrepreneurial finesse on the part of the Thai-national student who brought the appeal to the Supreme Court—he ultimately allegedly paid his educational costs and profited over 100,000$ from the scheme. As the Washington Post article writes, “In this case, the issue was whether U.S. copyright protection applies to items that are made abroad, purchased abroad and then resold in the U.S. without the permission of the manufacturer” and the Court decided affirmatively that NO, copyright protection does not apply.

(Justices Kagan and Alito noted in their separate opinion that Congress would be free to amend the law to provide more protection if it believes such protection is warranted. Stay tuned to see an all-out lobbyist frenzy on that front soon!)