Independence Day Reading

Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain 239 years ago today on July 2, 1776, when it passed Lee’s Resolutions (“that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved”). Traditionally and pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 6103, Independence Day is observed on July 4, also known as “the Fourth of July” the date when Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence. If July 4 is a Saturday, as it is in 2015, the holiday is observed on Friday, July 3. If July 4 is a Sunday, it is observed on Monday, July 5.

In the enjoyment all of the Fourth of July sales, picnics, parades, fireworks, and ball games, it is easy to forget the real significance of the holiday. Reading the Brooklyn Law School Library ‘s copy of the 199 page e-book The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty, published by the Cato Institute and written by Thomas Sandefur, provides a good reminder of that meaning. The book is part of a recent wave of conservative/libertarian scholarship that asks questions regarding original intent, the purpose of the Constitution, and how best to defend liberty. It challenges the status quo of constitutional law and argues a vital truth: our Constitution was written not to empower democracy, but to secure liberty. In fact, the word “democracy” does not occur in either the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. Yet the overemphasis on democracy by today’s legal community – rather than the primacy of liberty, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence – has helped expand the scope of government power at the expense of individual rights. The author argues that now, more than ever, the Declaration of Independence should be the framework for interpreting our fundamental law.

Two Landmark Supreme Court Decisions in Two Days

The United States Supreme Court on Thursday, June 25, 2015 upheld federal health insurance subsidies for moderate and low income Americans as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

The vote was 6-3, with the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. The Court ruled that subsidies are valid even in those states that did not set up their own exchanges. This decision, in King v. Burwell, was the second time in three years that the Supreme Court upheld provisions of “Obamacare,” that otherwise might have decimated the law.  The Court upheld the law’s individual mandate in 2012 in National Federation of Independent Business, et al. v. Sebelius.

The Court also handed down another major decision on Friday, June 26, 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges. By a vote of 5-4, the Court ruled that states cannot ban same-sex couples from getting married.  This decision establishes a national right to same-sex marriage throughout the country and requires states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy.


Brooklyn Law at CALIcon 2015

imageOn Thursday, June 18 at CALIcon 2015 held at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, one of the opening sessions was called Incorporating Technology, Business Development and Marketing in the Law School Curriculum. The session by Brooklyn Law School Reference Librarian Harold O’Grady and Brooklyn Law School Technology Educator Lloyd Carew-Reid examined how law schools are now incorporating technology, business development and marketing in the law school curriculum. Using Google Hangouts, Harold and Lloyd were joined by Brooklyn Law School Professor Jonathan Askin and MIT’s Danza Greenwood to discuss their ABA-MIT Online Legal Appathon which took place at the ABA Tech Show 2015 in April.

Three BLS students participated remotely in the session: Alex Goldman, Class of 2014, Patrick Mock, Class of 2017 and Paula Collins, Class of 2017. Alex discussed his project on Technical Standards for Warrant Canaries. Patrick and Paula talked about their awards at the second annual Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) Innovators Competition held in April 2015. Patrick won 1st Prize for his proposal, Buoy, which addresses the problem of student loan debt by incorporating a crowdfunding model into a student loan service. Paula won 3rd prize for her FLIC (Film Legal Information Center) app, which would deliver a virtual law practice, direct client services, and business/entrepreneurial services to a community of Indie film artists in Brooklyn and surrounding areas.

A video of the hour-long session is available on YouTube at this link.

First Amendment Supreme Court Decisions

Today the Supreme Court issued rulings on two cases dealing with First Amendment issues.Judges_Gavel

In Walker v. Texas the Court ruled that Texas did not violate the First Amendment when it rejected a specialty license plate featuring the Confederate battle flagJustice Clarence Thomas joined four liberal members of the court to keep the flag off Texas license plates. The court’s four other conservative members called the decision an assault on free speech rights.

In Reed v. Gilbert the Court ruled for an Arizona church’s challenge to a sign ordinance.  The justices unanimously said the town of Gilbert, Arizona, ran afoul of the First Amendment by setting tougher rules for signs placed in the right of way along public streets to direct people to Sunday church services than for signs for political candidates and real estate agents.


Episode 094: Interview with Robert Harned

Episode 094: Interview with Robert Harned.mp3

This podSally Phippscast features former Cataloging Librarian Bob Harned who worked for the Brooklyn Law School Library in Technical Services from 2001 to 2006. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Bob grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. A lifelong research librarian, he worked at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and in several universities and law firms in New York City. He now resides in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York, with his partner, food journalist, cookbook author, and broadcaster Arthur Schwartz. Robert’s interests are film history, Greek and Roman archaeology, and singing. He has recorded four CD albums. Since leaving the BLS Library, Bob has been busy with many projects, the most recent of which is the publication of Sally Phipps: Silent Film Star, a biography of his late mother.

A complimentary copy of the 290 page book with its 150 pictures, mostly photographs, is at the BLS Library Circulation Desk for library users can look through it. It is also available for purchase in paperback and via Kindle on the Amazon webpage which states:

Sally Phipps was only three years old and the veteran winner of several beautiful baby contests when she appeared as the Baby in the film “Broncho Billy and the Baby.” It was made at the Niles California Essanay Studio in late 1914. This book follows her amazing life and a career that culminated in her receiving the Rosemary (for remembrance) Award shortly before her death in 1978. Her memories of the early years at Essanay include sitting on Charlie Chaplin’s lap and enduring a frightening stage coach accident. In her teens, she was a Fox Studio star appearing in 20 films, including a cameo in the classic “Sunrise.” There were bad times also. She was on the set of her Fox two-reel comedy “Gentlemen Preferred Scotch’” in 1927 when word reached her of the scandalous death of her father, a state senator. But in that same year, she was selected as one of the 13 Wampas Baby Stars, starlets that were considered destined for future success. Despite her popularity in Hollywood, she left for New York where she became the darling of gossip columnists, particularly Walter Winchell. She appeared in two Broadway shows, made a Vitaphone comedy short, and married and divorced one of the Gimbel department store moguls before she darted off for India and around the world travel. Back in New York, there was another marriage, two children, and later a stay in Hawaii. Earl Wilson wrote about her in 1938 when she was working for the Federal Theatre Project during the WPA period — headlining his column “Wampas Ex-Baby Lives on WPA $23 – And Likes It.” Her images – especially her pinup photographs – have become highly collectible. The book features 150 pictures from Sally’s personal and professional life, including glamorous portraits and pinups.

20th Edition of the Bluebook

BluebookThe Brooklyn Law School Library is adding ten copies of the newly released 20th edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Call #KF245 .B58) to the Reserve Collection at the Circulation Desk as well as a copy to the Reference Collection at the Reference Desk.

There are changes in content but now the numbering of the rules in the Bluepages (non-academic citation) parallels the numbering in the Whitepages (academic citation). Typeface rules were relaxed to permit use of large and small caps in court documents for stylistic purposes. Rule 14 includes more examples of citations for a wide variety of administrative materials. Rule 15 adds a citation format for e-books. Rule 18 was revised and is much clearer. It no longer distinguishes between direct and parallel citations to Internet sources, and no longer requires that the URL be preceded by “available at.”

The new edition of the Bluebook recognizes as a reliable tool for preserving internet sources.Rule 18.1 provides the Basic Citation Forms for Internet Sources table on page 178 and gives the following example for citing to archived sources:

Rule 18.1 Basic Citation Forms for Internet Sources table on page 178:

  • Rocio Gonzalez, Puerto Rico’s Status Debate Continues as Island Marks 61 Years as a Commonwealth, HUFFINGTON POST (July 25, 2013, 9:00 AM), [].

The Bluebook includes a new rule: 18.2.1(d), which states:

Archiving of Internet sources is encouraged, but only when a reliable archival tool is available. For citations to Internet sources, append the archive URL to the full citation in brackets.

  • Letter from Rose M. Oswald Poels, President/CEO, Wis. Bankers Ass’n, to Elizabeth M. Murphy, Sec’y, SEC (Sept. 17, 2013), [].

Being in the Know

While working at your summer job or internship, it is important to stay up to date on legal developments and current events. One way to do this is to monitor legal news by using an RSS feed. If you have never set up an RSS feed, watch this easy to follow video demonstrating how to do so. (Note: this video refers to Google Reader, which is no longer in service.)

As the video describes, you need to complete two steps to create an RSS feed. First, you need to sign on to a reader, which is a website where you view the latest news from your favorite sources. The second step is to set up a connection between your reader and your favorite legal news providers. You do this by subscribing to legal news sites or legal blogs.

Listed below are a few free RSS readers, and a few popular and reliable legal news sources.

RSS Readers

Feedly (Web/iOS/Andriod): Great looking design and easy to use interface.

Reedah (Web): Simple minimalist design. Good feed for beginners.

Comma Feed (Web): Designed to be superfast

FeedBooster (Web): Site is ad-free and can sort feeds in multiple ways

Legal News Providers

Law360: Very current coverage of law. Browse news by practice area or jurisdiction. Need to implement proxy instructions for off-campus access.

New York Law Journal: Covers New York legal developments. It is the go to source for attorneys practicing in New York. Browse news by practice area. Also publishes decisions from New York State and Federal Courts. Need username and password to access some articles. Contact for credentials.

Jurist Law: Free source supported by the University of Pittsburgh, School of Law. Very current, real time coverage or U.S. and World Legal News.

BNA Law Reports: Available via Bloomberg Law. BNA publishes law reports on over a 100 different legal topics. To access BNA Law Reports, sign on to Bloomberg Law and select BNA Law Reports from the “Getting Started” menu on the home page.

New York State Adopts the Uniform Bar Examination

uniform bar examOn April 30, 2015 the New York State Court of Appeals, which oversees legal education in the state, amended the rules of admission to the bar to adopt the Uniform Bar Examination (UBE).  The UBE is a uniform battery of tests that are administered simultaneously in all UBE jurisdictions.  It consists of the Multistate Bar Examination, the Multistate Performance Test and the Multistate Essay Examination.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman gave notice to the bar on Tuesday, May 5th that New York State had adopted the Uniform Bar Examination.  New York becomes the sixteenth state to adopt the UBE, which is prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

New York will officially adopt the UBE in July 2016.  Those passing the exam will be able to apply for admission in any of the other states offering the UBE, thereby expanding their employment opportunities.  All of the other states currently offering the UBE are smaller than New York State.  Over 15,000 people took the bar exam in New York State in 2015.

The current UBE states are now:

  1. Alabama,
  2. Alaska
  3. Arizona
  4. Colorado
  5. Idaho
  6. Kansas
  7. Minnesota
  8. Missouri
  9. Montana
  10. Nebraska
  11. New Hampshire
  12. New York
  13. North Dakota
  14. Utah
  15. Washington
  16. Wyoming

An applicant for admission in New York must also take and complete an online course in New York-specific law, known as the New York Law Course (NYLC) and must take and pass an online examination, known as the New York Law Exam (NYLE).  It is anticipated that the NYLC and the NYLE will be available in Spring 2016.  Effective October 1, 2016, an applicant who sat for the UBE in another jurisdiction may transfer the score earned on that examination to New York in lieu of taking the UBE in New York.

For further details on the Uniform Bar Examination in New York State, see the following:

Court of Appeals Notice to the Bar

Board of Law Examiners UBE Informational Guide