Saturday, March 17, 2012

New on HeinOnline: Congressional Hearings

HeinOnline has just announced the addition of more than 3,000 Congressional Hearings to its U.S. Congressional Documents Collection.  The documents, from law firm Covington & Burling's prestigious collection of Government Printing Office hearings, span the period from 1927 (71st Congress) through 1994 (103rd Congress).  This collection provides easy access to many important hearings in searchable image-based PDF format, with the familiarity of HeinOnline navigation and features, and a Congressional Hearings Quick Finder.  HeinOnline will add more hearings monthly, and plans to eventually bring the collection up to the present date. To access the Congressional Hearings collection on HeinOnline, select "U.S. Congressional Documents Library" on the HeinOnline Resources page of the Law Library web site, and then select "Congressional Hearings" under the browse options. 

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Friday, March 16, 2012

Following the Money

In an attempt at transparency and to "follow the money", the federal government has unveiled a new web site . This site "brings records and data from across the federal government to one central location, making it easier for citizens to hold public officials accountable."  You can  enter the name of a government official and see every record of that person across the entire collection of ethics data—including campaign finance, lobbying, and White House visitor records.  Or, you can browse data sets such as Lobbying Disclosure Reports  or information on specific candidates .

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Thursday, March 15, 2012

State Voter ID Laws In The News

The validity of states’ voter identification laws has been much in the news this week. The Department of Justice recently objected to Texas’ new voter identification law, and a Dane County Circuit Court ruled on Monday that Wisconsin’s Act 23 is unconstitutional. Read more at the linked news stories.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wham! Pow! Zoom! A Superhero Registration Act?

Spring break is around the corner. Take a study break to consider the legal issues that arise in Marvel Universe when Capital Hill proposes that all costumed heroes unmask themselves before the government! In Civil war: a Marvel Comics event, superheroes clash with one other as they struggle towards a decision that will change the Marvel Universe ... forever!

Civil war is located in the library's reserve collection, ask for it at the the circulation desk.
Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tracking Your Life on Social Media

Social media is a way of life for people around the globe.  But, have you ever wondered who is reading your posts and tweets besides your friends and followers?  The answer may surprise you...or not!

"The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) just released DHS internal documents about the surveillance of social media and the information collected daily. EPIC gained access to the documents with a lawsuit, pushing the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents included hundreds of keywords that the government tracks.

The Department of Homeland Security initiative started in February 2011. The department aimed to use social media to stay in-the-know about breaking news as it’s happening. Tweets mentioning “attack” or “shooting” could, for instance, alert officials disturbances to national security right away. “Social media outlets provide instant feedback and alert capabilities to rapidly changing or newly occurring situations,” states U.S. Homeland Security internal documents. “The [Media Monitoring Capability team] works to summarize the extensive information from these resources to provide a well rounded operational picture for the Department of Homeland Security.” (Read more here on

Dean Obeidallah, a comedian and former attorney, humorously equates the Homeland Security word watch list with George Carlin's list of words you can't say on TV from the 1970's.  "Now it appears there are more than 500 words you shouldn't say on Twitter or Facebook unless you want to be flagged by the Department of Homeland Security. There is a surveillance program the agency quietly began in February 2011 to monitor social media, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center."  (Read more on
Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Monday, March 12, 2012

Congressional Research Service (CRS)

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. It is known as Congess's Think Tank.  CRS reports are highly regarded as in-depth, accurate, objective, and timely, but as a matter of policy they are not made directly available to members of the public.

Open CRS provides citizens access to CRS Reports that are already in the public domain.

ProQuest Congressional - a subscription database - also has CRS Reports.  The Law Library subscribes so it is available for the use of Hofstra Law students. 

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat