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BLAWg In Bloom

The Indiana Law Library Blog

A “Day of Publick Thanksgivin”

According to the National Archives, George Washington, at the recommendation of the first Congress, declared November 26, 1789 a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin.”  Many successive presidents recognized Thanksgiving, but it was in 1941, under the auspices of Franklin Roosevelt, that it became an official holiday.  There was some dispute about the exact date (it started as the last Thursday in November, then the language was changed to the fourth Thursday), but the end result is that we spend the end of each November pondering all the wonderful things in our lives.  Of course, we also eat turkey, do volunteer work, watch sports, and shop like crazy, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics is quick to remind us. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, doing what ever you find most fun and relaxing, and we look forward to seeing you back on Monday.

The Veterans History Project

Veterans Day is a time to celebrate the valiant men and women who have served in the armed forces, their stories, and our shared history.  The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center does just that, collecting first hand accounts and mementos of veterans and those on the home front during wartime.  Since its inception in 2000, the project has collected the stories of thousands of veterans and those in the war effort for preservation in the Library of Congress.  You can search or browse—many interviews are not digitized yet, but for some you can watch or listen to interviews, read transcripts, or view documents and photographs of interest. One very touching story is of a dog named Lucky who served in the Marines while his owner was in the Navy.  The Project does not conduct interviews themselves—their material comes from partner organizations and from volunteers.  Our own Senator Lugar has contributed greatly to the collection.  If you know a veteran with a story to tell (or are one yourself) you might consider participating in the project.  More details on how to do so can be found here. Happy Veterans Day!

Library Cancels Many Newspapers and Magazines

Library patrons who regularly read the Law Library’s collection of newspapers and weekly news magazines will soon start to notice that many are no longer subscribed to by the Law Library. Severe budget cuts have forced the Library to cut many non-essential titles – newspapers and news magazines have been some of the first to go. Among the titles cancelled to date are:

The Economist
Financial Times
Indianapolis Star
National Review
New Republic
New York Times
Sports Illustrated
U. S. News and World Report
USA Today
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post (daily and weekly editions)

Many of these titles are available online or elsewhere on campus. If you have questions or concerns about these or other cancellations, please contact Keith Buckley, Collection Development Librarian (

Bilski v. Kappos

On Monday the Supreme Court heard one of the largest patent cases in years, Bilski v. Kappos, 08-964.  Bilski asks the court to really define what can be patented. Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw came up with a mathematical way of predicting energy costs (which naturally fluctuate based on weather and materials) and sought to patent it.  Patents do cover processes, but do they cover a process which does not involve any tools or machinery and does not create anything new? Oral arguments are now complete, and some write ups feel that the Supreme Court did not appear very friendly to the plaintiffs, but only time will tell.  What do you think?  For more information on the case, take a look at the SCOTUSWiki, which includes a preview of the arguments and all the most important documents.  In addition to the lower court opinion, petition for cert, and briefs of the parties, there are dozens of amicus briefs, including one from our own Prof. Collins.

Listening to the Health Care Bill

Last Saturday the House passed H.R. 3962, the highly controversial health care bill, by a very slim margin of 220-215.  The House added one amendment to the bill, concerning coverage of abortion procedures, but declined to include an amendment dealing with insurance. The bill as introduced is sizable—nearly two thousand pages, and if you are interested in reading it you can.  It is available in several places including FDsys, the new website from the Government Printing Office.  There is another alternative, though, for people reluctant to wade through the paper version.  Hear the Bill is a website where voice actors have volunteered their time to read aloud the text of the health care bill.  The later divisions of H.R. 3962 are not yet complete, but all of Division A and the majority of Division B are.  You can also listen to older versions of the House Bill, or a draft version of the Senate Bill.  Go take a look!

Brevier Legislative Reports

The initial release of the electronic version of the Brevier Legislative Reports is now available through the Law Library’s website. To access the set, go to the Digital page under Collections on the Law Library website. The Brevier Legislative Reports are a verbatim report of the proceedings of the Indiana General Assembly from the Special Session of 1858 to the Regular Session of 1887. This project was supported with a grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Indiana State Library.

Judicial Recusal

The legal world has struggled with the question of judicial recusal for a long time.  When should a judge recuse himself?  Is he the best person to make that decision, or should another judge weigh in? There are certain standards—for example a judge should not be involved on a case in which she owns stock in one of the parties, but many of these rules are a little vague.  Some states leave it up to the judge to decide, other states allow parties to disqualify a judge, no questions asked.  A recent high-profile case, Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., Inc., has generated a great deal of talk on the subject.  Congress is now considering whether or not to step in. Also at the forefront of debate is our own Prof. Charles Geyh, who has been studying judicial recusal for the American Bar Association.  More on his project and its findings can be found in this article from Judicature. A nice piece in the National Law Journal sums up the latest. What do you think?  When and how should judges be recused?

New Lexis iPhone App

A while ago we mentioned that West made Black’s Law Dictionary available as an application for the iPhone.  Now Lexis is making materials available through the iPhone.  LexisNexis Get Cases and Shepardize lets you do just that the name suggests. You can pull up a case, or run a Shepard’s search, although you will only get the Shepard’s summary, and not the full report.  The app is free, but it does require that you have a valid Lexis password, so for those out of law school, you will probably have to pay standard charges.