Thursday, January 5, 2017

Happy New Year!


Hello BC Law!  Finally, 2017 is here.  We hope that everyone is enjoying the break from classes and is resting up to get ready for the start of the semester.

To get you up to speed on predictions for the year, check out the following articles.  It's light reading to get you back in the habit before opening up those casebooks later this month.  There's a listing of the newest gadget trends, M&A predictions, and the ever important, color of the year.  Happy reading!

IEEE Spectrum's Gadget Report


WSJ's M&A Predictions

Forbes' Color of the Year

Time and Date Holidays







Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Looking at the Constitutions of the World through a Gender Lens

For researchers interested in gender equality issues around the globe, UN Women has recently unveiled a free database that examines constitutional provisions from 195 countries through a gender lens, the Global Gender Equality Constitutional Database (GGECD), http://constitutions.unwomen.org/en/search.

Although databases that contain constitutions of the world are readily available (for example, the Constitutions of the World database on BC Law Library’s Database List, http://lawguides.bc.edu/az.php?a=c), the GGECD database is the first that focuses on constitutional provisions related to gender equality issues specifically. According to Article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), member states commit to “to embody the principle of the equality of men and women in their national constitutions” as part of their obligations after ratification. Although United States has signed on this treaty on July 17, 1980, it has yet to ratify it. The most recent status of CEDAW can be found here, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-8&chapter=4&clang=_en.


The GGECD database is easy to search and navigate. The Advanced Search options allow users to search the database by category, region or country, or by language. The 195 countries in the database are divided into five geographical regions (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania). For researchers interested in gender equality issues from a comparative law perspective, the categorical search option is most helpful. Through the 24 categories and 19 sub-categories, researcher can quickly locate constitutional provisions related to a range of topics such as affirmative action, citizenship and nationality, death penalty, education and others.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Presidential Transition: New Laws, New Regulations & Resources

New Law Concerning Presidential Transition:  On March 7, 1964, Congress enacted The Presidential Transition Act of 1963, PL 88-277, to ensure the orderly transfer of power from one presidential administration to the next.  This statute was recently amended on March 18, 2016, by The Edward 'Ted' Kaufman and Michael Leavitt Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015.  The act provides that the sitting President has a general duty to plan and coordinate executive branch activities to facilitate the transfer of power to the new President, including the establishment and operation of the White House Transition Coordinating Council and the agency transition directors council.  In addition, the act provides that a Federal Transition Coordinator be designated to carry out the duties of the General Services Administration concerning presidential transitions.  The act further sets deadlines for transition planning and mandates congressional reports, including those on security threats and on the impact of "midnight" regulations.

New Regulations Concerning Presidential Transition:  New regulations concerning presidential transition will take effect on January 1, 2017.  These new regulations will be codified in 5 CFR Part 2638 (in particular, 5 CFR Sections 2638.104-108 and 2638.210) and are set forth in the final rule of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics published at 81 Federal Register 76271

Presidential Transition Guides:

  • The U.S. Office of Personnel Management's Presidential Transition Guide 2016 (a guide to the federal positions subject to change during presidential transition, the upcoming federal appointments and the vetting process)
  • Partnership for Public Service's Center for Presidential Transition publishes what many consider to be the definitive guide to the process of presidential transition, Presidential Transition Guide and Timeline 2016 (many informative graphics, charts, memoranda and other materials from prior transitions)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Electoral College – Exploring the Original Intent of the Founders

On December 19, 2016, the Electors will cast their votes for the 45th President of the United States.   As in 2000, the Presidential candidate who won the popular vote will not win the Electoral College vote, absent an unprecedented number of faithless Electors.  This situation has spawned much discussion about the original intent of the founders with respect to the Electoral College.  If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you could explore the library catalog for books or scholarly articles on the Electoral College but another great source you have access to through the law library's collection of databases, is Rotunda’s American Founding Era Collection.   This database contains the correspondence of a number of key figures from America’s founding era. Included are the papers of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison.  This resources also includes The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution

For example, the Papers of Alexander Hamilton contains all twenty-seven volumes of the print edition—all the writings by and to Hamilton known to exist, some 12,500 documents—including all editorial annotations. You can use the online index to access discussion of the Electoral College & Electors in various writings, including The Federalist.  You are also able to search this resources using the Search link located at top of the screen.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Improving Access to Legal Materials

“How can people follow laws and regulations they’re unaware of?”


That’s what I found myself asking someone at a state agency I had called many years ago while assisting a student who couldn’t find the Massachusetts regulation she needed. While they were happy to send me a copy of the regulation I sought they explained that they didn’t think it worth publishing the regulations in the C.M.R. because they changed so frequently.  Not willing to leave well enough alone I replied, “If you want people to actually follow your regulations how can you NOT update the C.M.R. every time you change them?”

One would have thought the internet would have ended this problem once and for all  but while digital media has solved the problem of a print copy being out of date before the ink dries, today there are still a vast number of state and local statutes, regulations, and ordinances that are not openly and freely available on the internet because state and local governments, private publishers, and standards organizations assert that they have a copyright on them.  The National Conference on Copyright of State Legal Materials was held at Boston University School of Law last Friday took another step towards addressing the question I had asked all those years ago.

The conference began by providing some background on the legal status of claimed copyright in governmental works, including state statutes and regulations. Another speaker, a journalist, highlighted problems that keeping legal information — including federal and state court dockets — behind a paywall causes for our democracy.

The day concluded with discussions of a number of projects and organizations who are working to provide free and open access to state legal materials.  Here are a few which may be useful for law students interested in this area:
  • OpenGov Foundation is working to bridge the gap between citizens and government and build the tools that power lawmaking for a modern democracy including its America Decoded project [ http://americadecoded.org/ ] which provides a people-friendly way to access local, state, and federal legal codes. 
  • Free State Government Information is seeking to clarify state policies relating to public records with the aim of ensuring the widest possible access and use of state government information.
  • The Digital Access to Legal Information Committee of the American Association of Law Libraries maintains a database that provides information on the online legal information from each state in the areas of official status, authentication, preservation, permanent public access, copyright, and universal citation.  AALL is also working to help enact the Uniform Electronic Legal Information Materials Act [UELMA] in the states to work towards the universal availability and preserved permanent access to trustworthy electronic legal materials.