Now that we are well into June, the “major” cases that the Supreme Court has taken up in the current Term are beginning to be decided. For dates when opinions will be released, see the Mondays marked in blue on the calendar on the Court’s home page.
One such case is Zivotofsky v. Kerry, a/k/a the Jerusalem passport case, decided on Monday. The Court struck down §214(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003, which directed the secretary of state, upon request, to record “Israel” as the place of birth of a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem. In a 6-3 decision, the majority held that Congress had intruded on the power to recognize foreign nations and governments, designated to the President by Article II of the Constitution.
Numerous commentators have written about the decision.
Still to come this month are the highly anticipated King v. Burwell (which challenges IRS regulations extending tax credits to coverage purchased through exchanges established by the federal government, involving the health insurance of millions of Americans) and Obergefell v. Hodges (the same sex marriage cases).
Curious about intellectual property law? You may want to check out IP Watch, a non-profit news service that focuses on stories from around the world. This database is easily accessible through the Fineman & Pappas Law Libraries’ eResources A-Z list, and is searchable in a variety of ways. For instance, you can browse through a list of the most recent stories on the database’s main page, or focus on a topical category, such as copyrights, patents, or trademarks. If you are interested in a particular issue, you can also search the website using its search bar. Finally, IP Watch also enables you to search by geographical region.
In you are interested in accessing content in a different format, IP Watch offers an email subscription service, Facebook posts, a LinkedIn account, and a Twitter account to help keep you informed. IP Watch’s content is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese.
An earlier post in this blog reported on the status of the same-sex marriage cases that are pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
At that time (March 18), as noted on SCOTUSblog’s merits cases section, most of the amicus curiae briefs that had been filed at that time supported the rights of those seeking to establish a Constitutional right to marry. In recent weeks, the filing of briefs has continued, and the Court has received numerous briefs that support the state laws that prohibit same-sex marriages; these include those of the Republican Platform Committee, the Concerned Women for America and the Conference of Catholic Bishops.
SCOTUSblog continues to be a major source of legal analysis on the case and the arguments of the parties. Lyle Denniston has posted the first three of four preview articles summarizing (1) the perspective of the same-sex couples who have challenged laws prohibiting recognition of their marriages; (2) the position of the state governments defending their laws, and (3) the amicus briefs supporting the couples. A fourth post, summarizing the amicus briefs supporting the state governments, is forthcoming.
As the date of oral argument (April 28) approaches, news and commentary on the cases is increasing, including articles anticipating an expected ruling in support of the couples and the relationship of the marriage cases to the “religious freedom” laws proposed or adopted in some stated. See, e.g., these articles in NPR, Slate and The Huffington Post.
Over the past year, no U.S. legal issue has generated more news coverage and commentary than the legal status of same-sex relationships, particularly the questions whether the Constitution requires states to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize such licenses grated in other states.
In June 2013, the Supreme Court decided United States v. Windsor (2013), which struck down as unconstitutional a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined “marriage” under federal law to exclude same-sex couples. After Windsor, numerous federal and state courts ruled that the Constitution requires states to recognize same-sex marriages. In November 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reached a different result, upholding bans on same-sex marriage under the laws of several states.
By granting certiorari in cases from the four states comprising the Sixth Circuit–Bourke v. Beshear (KY), DeBoer v. Snyder (MI), Obergefell v. Hodges (OH) and Tanco v. Haslam (TN)–the Supreme Court decided to address two questions left unresolved by Windsor. (Click below to expand image.)
The Court has scheduled oral argument for April 28. In the past two weeks, dozens of briefs have been filed. Many of them are amicus curiae (or “friend of the court”) briefs, filed by persons or entities that are not parties to the case but wish to provide their perspectives to the Court. Most of them–including those of The American Psychological Association, The Cato Institute and the United States government–support the right of same-sex couples to marry. The Court’s decision is expected by the end of June, with these cases among the last to be decided in the Court’s October 2014 Term.
For those monitoring the topic, some of the best information sources are organizations that have been involved in the legal battle–e.g., Freedom to Marry and Lambda Legal. Other good sources include The New York Times and SCOTUSblog.
For worldwide information, the Jones Day law firm provides a database of jurisdictions, detailing the degree to which each country recognizes the status of same-sex relationships.
A previous post in this space noted email delivery of weekly or daily updates from Bloomberg BNA.
Another great tool that you can use to keep abreast of new developments is alerts, which you can create on the three big legal database providers: Lexis, Westlaw and Bloomberg Law. Alerts allow you to have a search run regularly (daily, weekly or monthly) and have new results delivered to you according to your specifications. Screen shots are provided below; click an image to increase its size.
After running a search on Lexis Advance, you can click the alarm clock button and fill out the resulting form to save the search to be run at a frequency you choose, with results to be delivered as you designate. As noted below, the saved alert would generate a monthly email message with any new Massachusetts cases that reference Mass. Gen. Laws. Ch. 93A.
Creating an Alert on Westlaw Next is very similar. Simply click on the alarm clock button
One of Bloomberg Law‘s great strengths is its Docket search feature. A user may create an Alert to receive periodic updates about filings in a case, including those accessible through the federal courts’ PACER system. For example, the image below shows a screen where an alert can be created by clicking the Blue button and filling in the form to select frequency of reports, etc. This Alert will provide regular updates about new filings in DeBoer v. Snyder, one of the same-sex marriage cases pending before the Supreme Court.
Alerts such as these are a convenient way to be notified automatically when new results that meet your criteria are discovered with the periodic searches that you request. If you’re not taking advantage of these, you could be missing out on a tool that could save time and effort.
There has been much interest in the Report released in December by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program; this report is highly critical of the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and has been called the Senate “torture report.”
This session of the certification program will explore research into U.S. and international law concerning torture, including U.S. obligations under international human rights treaties, and will include a range of primary legal documents, secondary sources and reports by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Amnesty International.
Sessions of this class are offered in Room 335 on:
Thursday, Feb. 19, 9 a.m. (LLM preferred)
Friday, Feb. 20, 12 p.m
Many of those who registered for the Thursday session were not able to be there at 9am. Space is available for the Friday session. To register, click HERE.
The class page: http://lawlibraryguides.bu.edu/cert2015_CIA
If you’re monitoring a topic for a seminar paper or some other interest, Bloomberg BNA updates are one of the best available tools for law-related current awareness.
It has long been possible to sign up for email delivery of these updates, whether you’re following a weekly update (like U.S. Law Week) or a daily one (such as the Daily Labor Report). You can go to BNA’s Law School Professional Information Center and click “Sign Up for Email Updates.” After a brief registration process, you can select the titles you want to receive.
But it is much easier to manage your BNA email subscriptions with your Bloomberg Law account. During a Bloomberg Law session, click “BNA Law Reports” on the main page.
From there, you can browse titles or topics to select the updates that interest you. To subscribe, just click the MANAGE EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS button; then, click the blue “Set Notification” button next to that title. (To unsubscribe, click the red “X” next to the title in the “Current Notifications” column on the right side of the screen.)
There are many other legal news updates available to BU Law users, including Law360 and the “News Trackers” available through the IntelliConnect (formerly CCH) database. And you can create customized Alerts on Lexis, Westlaw or Bloomberg Law. (Check this space for a future post for more details.)
For more information about your particular needs, contact a reference librarian.
All attorneys need to stay current with legal news–in particular, with developments in their areas of practice. This certification class will expand your knowledge of (and get you actively involved with) current awareness resources for legal information, including subscription services, blogs and social media tools.
Sessions of this class are offered on:
Monday, Feb. 2, 1 p.m. [cancelled: snow day]
Tuesday, Feb. 3, 9 a.m. (LLM preferred)
Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 9, 1 p.m. (Room 336) [new class]
To register, go to: http://lawlibraryguides.bu.edu/certification/register
Class page: http://lawlibraryguides.bu.edu/cert2015_keepingup
Each year, reporter Jeffrey Toobin from the New Yorker puts forth a list of legal predictions for the upcoming year. The list for 2015 has recently been published, and may be accessed HERE. According to Toobin, these stories will include a renewed focus on same sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act, as well as major changes to collegiate sports policies.
There has been much controversy over the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. That Report is now available via the Federal Digital System web site as Senate Report 113-288. This PDF is 700+ pages and includes the Report as well as minority and other views.