Racial Justice Project Files Amicus Brief with United States Supreme Court

Congratulations to the NYLS Racial Justice Project, which recently filed an amicus brief on behalf of Congressman John Lewis in Shelby County v. Holder. The case challenges the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and will be argued before the Supreme Court on February 27. The brief attests to the high price many paid for the enactment of the law and discusses the mechanisms that continue to suppress, dilute, and infringe upon minorities’ right to vote. Hats off to co-authors Associate Dean Deborah Archer; Professors Tamara Belinfanti, Erika Wood and Aderson Francois of Howard University; and Civil Rights Clinic students Sondah Ouattara, Cortney Nadolney, Jeremiah Rygus, Jason Sender, Joycelyn Pittard, Shantal Sparks, Vanessa Craivero, Megan Crespo, Jacob Korder, Sonia Tapryal and Will Lemon.

We Keep Charging Ahead!

Great news!  The Library now offers more options for charging your cell phone. You can charge your IPhone, Blackberry, LG, Motorola, Nokia or Samsung. If you need a charge, just stop by the Circulation Desk.  There’s no charge to charge; it’s free! Charging will be limited to 30 minutes if another student needs the charger.  Otherwise, you can fill ‘er up.

Celebrate Constitution Day

September 17 marks Constitution Day, commemorating the 1787 date on which thirty-nine of the Philadelphia Convention’s delegates signed the new Constitution.

The Office of Academic Affairs will be handing out free, pocket-size constitutions (while supplies last) at the entrance to 185 West Broadway this Friday, September 16.  (If supplies stop lasting, don’t despair; you can always get a copy at the Mendik Library Reference Desk.)

ConstitutionFacts.com has put together a variety of fun ways to test/expand your Constitutional knowledge.

Which Founding Father are you?

“Expert” level quiz.  Harder than you think!  This librarian only scored 43 out of 50.

Crossword puzzles.

Real or fake?

Famous quotes.

Further reading:

R.B. Bernstein, The Constitution as an Exploding Cigar and Other “Historians’ Heresies” About a Constitutional Orthodoxy, 55 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 1073 (2010/2011).

Jethro K. Lieberman, A Practical Companion to the Constitution: How the Supreme Court has Ruled on Issues from Abortion to Zoning (1999).

Remembering Seven Dirty Words

Can you name all seven dirty words?  Justice Stevens can, and did — in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978), decided 33 years ago on July 3.

In December, 1973, the Federal Communications Commission received a letter from John Douglas, a member of Morality in Media.  He and his fifteen-year-old son had heard a weekday afternoon radio broadcast of George Carlin’s “seven dirty words” routine.  It had been aired by WBAI, part of the Pacifica Foundation public radio network. The FCC subsequently issued a declaratory order holding the broadcast indecent.  No fine was imposed but the order was placed in the station’s license file.  All parties viewed the issue as an exciting test case and Pacifica appealed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed.

The Supreme Court then reversed the Court of Appeals in a 5-4 decision.  The majority opinion, authored by Justice Stevens, concluded that the FCC’s order did not violate the First Amendment.  The court held that in the context of broadcasting, the interests of child welfare and possibly unwilling audiences justify regulatory efforts to limit indecent content to certain time slots.  The opinion was cited frequently in the Supreme Court’s recent “fleeting expletives” case involving Fox Television Stations.

Further resources:

Nadine Strossen, Constitutional Law and Values – Version ’08 (Not Necessarily an Upgrade), 53 N.Y.L.S. L. Rev. 735 (2008-2009).

George Carlin, Last Words (2009).

Exploring Constitutional Conflicts: Regulation of Indecent Speech, http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/indecentspeech.htm (last visited June 25, 2011).

Richard A. Parker, Free Speech on Trial: Communication Perspectives on Landmark Supreme Court Decisions (2003).

Adam M. Samaha, The Story of FCC v. Pacifica Foundation (and Its Second Life) (Public Law and Legal Theory Working Paper No. 314).

Categories: Law

Bloomberg Law Training Sessions

Bloomberg Law is offering additional introductory training sessions to New York Law School students on July 6, 13, and 20. These 45-minute sessions will introduce BLAW’s newly released legal and financial services research platform, which integrates primary legal research and Bloomberg’s news, company information and analytics into one reliable resource. Features that will be covered include:

* B-Cite, Bloomberg’s legal citation tool
* Bloomberg Law Reports for current awareness articles on legal developments contributed by leading lawyers
* Company Due Diligence & transactional database
* Dockets as a litigation tool

All classes will meet in room L-207 in the library and will run from 5:15 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

Please email oribe@bloomberg.net (Pamela Haahr) to sign up to attend.

Loislaw in Transition

Wolters Kluwer, the company that produces the Loislaw service for computer assisted legal research, has advised us of their intention to discontinue their program of free Loislaw access for law students, effective in June of 2011. Wolters Kluwer is developing an enhanced Loislaw product for law schools, and we in the Library will be reviewing this product when details are finalized.

In the meantime, NYLS students with registered Loislaw accounts will find that their accounts no longer provide research access in June. Loislaw had been an electronic legal research alternative during the summer, when Lexis and Westlaw student passwords are restricted. This will no longer be true. For details regarding summer password extensions and other summer research options, please click here:


New York Law Journal (and other ALM Publications) Moved to Lexis

As of May 1, 2011, you can no longer find the New York Law Journal, the National Law Journal, the American Lawyer, or any other ALM (American Lawyer Media) publication on Westlaw.  Lexis has become the exclusive online provider for ALM publications (with the exception of ALM itself, which provides direct online access via subscription).

If you are looking only for the New York Law Journal, the best way to access it from the main directory page is States Legal – U.S. >> New York >> Search News >> New York Law Journal.  If you’re looking for content in other ALM publications, go to Secondary Legal on the main directory page and click the link for ALM.

Coverage for the New York Law Journal begins as of August 1, 1991. (We have full coverage in microfilm back to March 26, 1888.)  Lexis coverage for the National Law Journal begins as of January 3, 1983.  Coverage for other publications varies.

One caveat to keep in mind, courtesy of New York Times Co. v. Tasini, 533 U.S. 483 (2001):  Access to certain freelance articles and other features (e.g., photographs, classifieds, etc…) may not be available.

Your Classmates Say: Shhhhhhhh!!

That’s right; it’s not us, but your fellow students, who want the library to remain QUIET during finals.  Please do your part.  Even if you can study amidst noise and commotion, remember that not everyone else can.  At this time of year, even a little noise for a short time around those who are preparing for finals, doing take-home finals, or writing papers, is the height of rude behavior.

Please remember, all reading and stack areas in the Library are QUIET STUDY ZONES.  You should avoid conversation and unnecessary noise.  Be particularly mindful of the need for quiet as you enter and leave the Library.  Voices in the corridors and elevator vestibules carry into the reading areas and disturb those trying to study.

The Library can get crowded, and tensions can mount.  The only way to maintain an appropriate study atmosphere is through student cooperation.  Please keep this in mind always, and especially at this time of year.

Thanks to everyone for their anticipated cooperation.  And best of luck to you all on your exams.


Law Day 2011

Law Day, May 1, celebrates the fundamental principle of the rule of law and how it is connected to the many freedoms that Americans enjoy. President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the first Law Day through Proclamation 3221 in 1958. In 1961, Congress passed a joint resolution (now codified at 36 U.S.C. § 113) designating May 1 as Law Day and requesting each sitting president to issue a proclamation every year.

This year’s Law Day Theme, as established by the American Bar Association (ABA), is The Legacy of John Adams, From Boston to Guantanamo, which acknowledges John Adams as our first lawyer president and is designed to help us understand the role that lawyers have played throughout history in defending due process and the rights of the accused. The ABA provides an interactive map to show what Law Day Events are occurring throughout the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico. The New York State Bar Association has a webpage dedicated to Law Day 2011 and has listed a number of events occurring throughout the state.

If you are interested in planning Law Day events for next year, take a look at this year’s guide for ideas on how to organize Law Day Events.

Food (and Drink) for Thought

For those of you who have been complying with the library’s Food and Drink Policy, thank you. Some limits on the food and drink allowed in the library are necessary to keep our beautiful new building clean and comfortable for many years to come. Remember: All beverages, excluding water, must be in spill-proof mugs. This includes soda, coffee, and juice. Only light snack and light meal items are allowed. No food is allowed in the Electronic Research Classrooms and drinks must be in a spill-proof mug. Unattended food and drink items will be discarded.

Unfortunately, a number of people continue to ignore the policy. So, beginning during the week of April 25, you will see more librarians walking more frequently through the library; they will ask you to dispose of any offending items immediately or to leave the library to enjoy them elsewhere. Your help is appreciated to avoid creating unnecessary confrontations and the resulting distractions to you and your fellow students who are trying to study.

Why do we have the policy we do? Because it represents an appropriate compromise between allowing students to eat and drink while studying and ensuring respect for not only the physical space but also the interests of other members (present and future) of the law school community. Beverages spill, rendering the immediate space unusable until it is cleaned. Spills spread, stain, and leave behind a sticky residue attractive only to vermin. Food that is smelly or messy or noisy disturbs and distracts everyone around you. Messy items provide more food for local vermin. You wouldn’t bring food or drink into the courtroom, or to a client’s office, or on an interview.

A spill-proof mug is all it takes to enter the library with any beverage you like. If you don’t have a spill-proof mug, pick one up at the circulation desk for $3.00.

Everyone will appreciate your cooperation.