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U.S. Supreme Court Information

According to Law.com the term that the U.S. Supreme Court began this week will be a particularly interesting one.  That makes it an especially good time to be watching SCOTUSblog.  We’ve pushed this blog before, but it is such a good resource that it is worth mentioning again.  In addition to interesting legal information-for example Tuesday was the 206th anniversary of the Marbury v. Madison decision-SCOTUSblog will let you know when opinions are released, analyze recent cases, and include important documents like transcripts, opinions, briefs and motions.  It really is a source to be familiar with if you ever want to practice federal law.

The other site you want to make sure to hit when watching the Supreme Court is, of course, the Court’s own website. You can get the docket, oral arguments, briefs, case handling guides, and even job information. Take a look!

Prof. Johnsen’s Confirmation Hearing Today

At 2:00 PM today our own Prof. Dawn Johnsen is slated for a hearing on her nomination to the Office of Legal Counsel, as Assistant Attorney General.  Earlier we mentioned that the Senate Judiciary Committee has a page of materials for Prof. Johnsen’s hearing.  You can also watch the webcast there, or on C-SPAN, either from the comfort of home or on C-SPAN’s live stream online. If you prefer a more social experience, stop by the Moot Court Room between 2:10 and 5:00 to watch!

A Month in Office

In addition to the Academy Awards, this weekend was also the one month anniversary of President Obama’s taking office.  A great many people are watching his progress with interest, as these first few days are often key.  According to the New York Times a majority of Americans support the new president, as he faces trying times.  MSNBC is also keeping close track of the President Obama’s first few days.  They have constructed a chart with which you can compare the actions of Obama with those of the last 13 presidents in their first hundred days, put together a nice slideshow of pictures, and offer a collection of “First Reads” on Obama policies.  Go take a look!

Oscar Fever

With the 81st Academy Awards last night many people are still seeing stars.  Though you can hit pretty much any major news source to get a list of the winners, maybe the best place to go is to the source itself-Oscar.com, the official website of the Oscars.  It’ll catch you up if you missed the fun, or offer more that what you saw last night if you just can’t get enough.  You can see who was nominated, who won, and of course look at photos from the red carpet.  In fact, if the red carpet fashions are what you are looking for, you can not only look up current photos by the actor’s name, but you can also look at past years, or even watch the evolution of fashion by looking at what a particular actress wore at different times.  It makes a great study break!

Are There Government Documents You Need?

Is there important government information that you are not getting? OpenTheGovernment.org, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Sunlight Foundation are asking the public what documents they most want to see available.  They collect a list of information that people think is unavailable, costly, or difficult to obtain, and then request that is be released and regularly updated on government websites.  This is actually the third survey, the first being ten years ago in 1999.  Head over to the Show Us The Data website-you can vote for the government information that you would like to see more of, take a look at the top ten lists for 1999 and 2004, some of which are now more freely available, or read a report on why some government information is difficult for search engines to locate.

Nomination Hearing for Professor Johnsen

Professor Dawn Johnsen’s hearing to consider her nomination for the post of Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel has been scheduled for February 25th at 2:00 p.m.  Senator Dianne Feinstein will preside.

The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary maintains web pages for Executive and Judicial nominees, which include committee and supporting materials. The page for Professor Johnsen includes the committee questionnaire and materials related to Professor Johnsen, such as her publications, reports, transcripts of congressional hearing testimony, speeches, Supreme Court briefs, and her course syllabi. Also available for review are letters written in support of her nomination from Dean Lauren Robel, former Attorney General Janet Reno, Representative Baron Hill, Representative Lee Hamilton, former Solicitor General Seth Waxman, Governor Deval Patrick (Massachusetts), and many other notable legal figures, including law school deans, professors, and attorneys.

The hearing will be webcast live online.

Who Owns Your Info?

Facebook has been at the heart of many controversies, including inability to delete data.  It’s not too surprising, though-any group with 175 million members is bound to have its fair share of dustups.  Most recently, though, people are abuzz because Facebook changed its terms of service earlier this month.  The new terms suggest that even after you leave the service Facebook retains some rights to the content that you added.  Take a look at the Terms of Use yourself-most people skip such things.  And you can also look at stories from the New York Times, or the Chicago Tribune.  You might want to look at the blog that broke the story, The Consumerist, or the response on the Facebook blog.

Roman Polanski and the 30 Year Case

After living in France for 30 years, director Roman Polanski is finally looking to get his case resolved.  Polanski admitted to having sexual relations with a minor in 1977, served 42 days in prison, and fled the country when it looked as though he could expect more prison time.  Since that time, many have examined the trial; most recently a documentary on HBO “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” suggested that the prosecutor and the judge were not entirely on the level.  This film may be in large part responsible for Polanski’s current attempt to get the matter resolved.  His attorneys are currently looking to get the case dismissed.  Polanski is walking a thin line though-if he comes into the United States he is likely to be arrested as a fugitive, but he may need to be present if the issue is ever to be fully resolved.  For more, check out articles from CNN and the Associated Press.

Do We Need to Reexamine the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court has been in everyone’s mind recently. Between the natural speculation that a new administration man bring in a few changes on the courts, and with the announcement of Justice Ginsburg’s cancer treatment speculation has run rampant. Recently though, a collection of legal professionals and scholars have suggested that we need some court reform. The National Law Journal reports that 33 legal minds have sent a reform proposal, which includes four parts, to the Vice President, the Attorney General, and the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. The proposals outlined include regular appointments, disability, the choice of a chief justice, and the cert process. You can find the proposal itself on the website of Duke professor Paul Carrington.

Does the court need a change, or is our current system the best? If we do need reform, is this the way to go about it?

The NAACP at 100

It was one hundred years ago today that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded. It was the product of a number of visionaries, men and women, black and white, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, and Mary White Ovington to name only a few. Since its inception the NAACP has been tireless in its efforts to see rights and equality for minorities. It is a grassroots organization, but has had remarkable organization and growth. Only four years after its birth there were branch offices in many major cities.

In its tenure the NAACP has fought the horrors of lynching, worked to rid the United States of segregation, and campaigned hard for civil rights. A century later, however, the NAACP is showing no signs of simply resting on its laurels. Instead they have already released a plan for what they are tackling during the first year of their second century—Safe Communities, Good Schools, and a Fair Chance for All Americans. Go ahead and take a look at the NAACP website. You can learn about the history of the organization, check out centennial events, and even help pick a list of the top 100 films by and about people of color.

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