Saturday, August 02, 2008

Declaration Signed Today in 1776

Yes, that's right. Not many people celebrate August 2 as the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but it is. The Continental Congress approved the Declaration on July 4, 1776, by unanimous voice vote, and also voted to have it printed. But only John Hancock, president of the Congress, signed it that day in order to authenticate it for printing and publication. It was not until August 2 that most of the members could gather to examine and sign the Declaration, and some who could not be present signed it even later. Only by August 2 had the Declaration been engrossed (prepared as an official document in a large, clear hand) on parchment, with its title changed from "A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in General Congress assembled" to "The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America." The National Archives has more on the evolution of the nation's first document.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Friday, August 01, 2008

Summer & Law & Movies

So what do summer, law and movies have in common? It is August, classes are finished and the bar exam is done, so what better time then to catch up on some good flicks. For the legal aspect, check out the latest issue of ABA Journal online for The 25 Greatest Legal Movies. For this issue, the ABA Journal asked 12 prominent lawyers who teach film or are connected to the business to choose what they regard as the best movies ever made about lawyers and the law.

Add a comment to this post on your favorite legal movie. We might even add it to our growing Law in the Movies collection.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Portmanteau Words

A linguistic oddity that pervades the English language far more than many realize is the portmanteau word. Portmanteau words are “blend” words that are derived by combining sections of two or more separate words. Some famous examples include the “nonsense” words in Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky”, such as “slithy” (compounded of slimy and lithe).

A list of more common portmanteau words that you may never have realized are such appears at this portmanteau words site.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Constitutional Sources Project

The Constitutional Sources Project is a collection of letters, speeches and journals of our nation's founders. The goal is to create and maintain the first, free, fully- indexed, comprehensive online library of constitutional sources. The collections include:

Constitutional Precedents
The United States Constitution
James Madison's Notes of the Constitutional Convention
The Federalist Papers
Anti-Federalist and Pro-Federalist Papers
State Ratification Debates
Bill of Rights Legislative History
State Constitution and Charters
The Papers of George Washington
Documents by Author

Truly a treasure trove and the project is still adding documents.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Onion on Convoluted Legal Wranglings

There was a funny article in The Onion last week about Mets third baseman David Wright appealing a check swing call to the Supreme Court. It is funny because umpires and judges have some things in common (as PrawfsBlawg points out, Chief Justice Roberts has analogized his Court to a crew of umpires), because spending years waiting for a ball-strike call exemplifies how out of sync the timing of our courts can be with real life, because a check swing involves the sort of subjective test courts like to examine at length, and because it quotes John Kruk explaining originalist interpretation.

However, although the article says that the fake case had a "convoluted" procedural history, it involved no remands, interlocutory appeals, etc. In fact, it somehow managed to skip multiple levels of the state and federal courts--just look at the chart below. (Of course, National League umpires working at Shea are not actually a court of first instance in the New York State Unified Court System.)

[Courts written in gray were skipped.]

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat