Welcome Back Students!

Cue the annual welcome back blog post!

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year.  A summer of work, summer classes, internships, externships, pre-lawschool anxiety is now over.  We’re back!  Fall classes started yesterday and everyone seems to be getting into the swing of things already.  For those of you who are law school returners, you seem to have picked up where you left off checking out study rooms, being quiet on the 6th floor, and looking generally happy to be in our beautiful building.  For you new students, so far so good!  However, the pursuit of knowledge is neverending. So, just in case you forgot, or you didn’t know, or you are choosing to forget, I wanted to highlight a few things in the library.

 

Beyond these highlights, we’re just glad to have you all back.  It was getting awfully quiet without you.

Faculty Suggested Leisure Reading – Summer 2018

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Photo by Ernesto De Quesada https://www.flickr.com/photos/erlin1/

Summer is here!  Today is officially the last day of finals here at Georgia State University College of Law.  Tomorrow, we will graduate our 2018 class of J.D. Students.  Soon, rising 1L’s and 2L’s will begin summer jobs and internships, and a lucky few will start their summer classes.

While there is still a lot going on for the everyday GSU Law Student, this is a time where many of them take some time for themselves away from law school.  So, as is tradition, we surveyed the GSU law faculty for books and other media they suggested for summer leisure reading.  Without further ado, here are the GSU Law Faculty Summer Reading Suggestions.  We buy all the books on the list so see the hyperlinks for book descriptions and the Leisure Collection (to the right of the Ref Desk) to borrow.

 

1.  Pam Brannon

 

2.  Karen Johnson

 

3. Kris Niedringhaus

 

4.  Stacie Kershner

 

5.  Bill Edmundson

 

6. Deepa Varadarajan

 

7. Nirej Sekhon

 

8.  Leslie Wolf

 

9. Yaniv Heled

 

10. Lisa Radtke Bliss

 

11. Terrance Manion

 

12. Lauren Sudeall Lucas

 

and, last but certainly not least

13. Patrick Parsons

 

 

Goodbye FDsys, Hello Govinfo

fdsys v govinfo

That’s right, at some future undetermined date, probably late 2018 ,[1] everyone’s favorite government information website will be shut down and replaced by a new, modern (ish) version. This will be only the third GPO electronic information website in the last 25 years. In June 1994, the Government Printing Office (GPO) launched GPO Access. This was replaced by FDsys (Federal Digital System) in January 2009.  Now, almost ten years later, it’s time for the GPO, who has subsequently changed its name to the Government Publishing Office, to transition once again to Govinfo.

 

What is staying the same?

Content.  In the end, Govinfo will have the same exact content as FDsys.  The Federal Register, US Code, Congressional Record, and all other government information will be available with the same exact coverage as FDsys.

What is going to be different?

Interface.  The GPO has developed a completely new way to navigate the information formerly available on FDsys.  Govinfo was released in a beta version in early 2016, and taken out of beta in late January 2018.  This should mean that the site is fully developed and ready to go.  If everything stays the same, the initial landing page features a big search bar with some large buttons below.  The new site is mobile responsive and will work with smartphones, tablets, or however else you want to read your favorite title of the CFR.  The site also features modern looking search results pages with easy to navigate filtering options.

Is this a good thing?

Probably.  FDsys was rather dated, and it was easy to get stuck in a long series of sub-menus and pages.  That being said, when I used FDsys I usually navigated things from the upper right publication menu, which was conveniently located and easy to find.  FDsys was probably still workable in its final form, but it was ugly and aesthetics seem to mean more and more when we select information sources.

The thing I like best about Govinfo is the “A to Z” menu on the landing page.  As I said before, when I’m in FDsys I browse by publication, The “A to Z” menu makes it easy to find whatever you need.  If you’re feeling particularly wild, or have a few free minutes on a Friday afternoon, try browsing to the C.F.R.  List of Sections Affected.  It’s there, and it’s finally easy to find.

The search is better than I thought it would be.  The algorithm handles legal citations well.  I tried to put in some lazy citations like I would in Westlaw or Lexis, omitting punctuation, section symbols, and sub sections, and it reliably found the right section.[2]  It also has an effective advanced searching feature, which allows you to search by citation, collection, government branch, sudoc number, and more.  As I said above, I particularly like the new filtering options.  Searching is definitely where Govinfo feels the most improved relative to FDsys.

This isn’t to say that Govinfo doesn’t have its own difficulties.  It’s not really intuitive to use for first time users – what is an “A to Z” anyway? You also cannot search for certain publications.  I tried type in federal register to see if it would auto populate like some other databases, and it would not.  The search by citation feature is also somewhat clunky, and doesn’t handle sub sections well.  Using my example from above, 24 C.F.R. § 9.103, I couldn’t get the system to search for “103” and had to just search for 9.  It wasn’t a huge deal, but it took me a minute to make it work.

Overall, I’m happy with the upgrade.  The aesthetics were just so bad on FDsys, and I think people were hesitant to try navigating the system.  With the new modern upgrade, the GPO website looks and functions similarly to a modern information website.  Even with some of it’s difficulties, Govinfo is a big upgrade from FDsys.  A for effort GPO.

[1] https://www.infodocket.com/2018/01/24/gpos-govinfo-ends-beta-as-transition-from-fdsys-continues/

[2] I performed the searches “24 cfr 9,” “24”c.f.r” 9,” and “24 cfr 9.1.”  All three searches produced the same results listing the C.F.R sections in order 9.101, 9.102, 9.103 etc.

We’re Hiring!

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The Law Library is currently accepting applications for graduate research assistants (commonly known as GRAs) for the summer semester. We currently need one Reference and three Research GRAs.  Position descriptions are linked below:

http://libguides.law.gsu.edu/grahiring 

Eligibility

Law Library GRA positions are open to all GSU law students who have completed their first two semesters of classes. Part-time students are eligible. Students applying for Summer positions must be enrolled in at least 4 hours of Summer classes. Students may apply for both types of GRA position, but cannot be hired for both positions at the same time.

Submission
Applications are due at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 03, 2018.

Reference GRA applicants: Email one document which includes a 1) cover letter, 2) current resume, and 3) completed availability form (available in the link above) to Pam Brannon (pbrannon@gsu.edu). Include your last name in the file name.

Research GRA applicants: Email one document which includes a 1) cover letter and 2) current resume to Pam Brannon (pbrannon@gsu.edu). Include your last name in the file name.

Holiday Cards For Jacob

 

card sign

Jacob Thompson is a 9 year old boy from Maine.  Three years ago, Jacob was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that has now moved to his head and hip.   As of late October, Jacob’s doctors gave him a month to live.

In response to a GoFundMe page for Jacob’s funeral expenses, people began sending Jacob and his family holiday cards.  Jacob was delighted by the cards, especially those containing penguins – his favorite animal. On a CNN News story, Jacob said that he wants people to celebrate the holidays with him by sending him cards.  Because of Jacob’s request, a  national grassroots holiday card campaign has begun.  On November 2, even TV personality Jake Tapper got into the effort by tweeting the address where people could send cards.

tapper

Georgia State College of Law student Honey Shaw approached the library to ask if she could set up a card making station. The library obviously agreed, and cards are flying out the door! The card station will be up until the end of this week. Many thanks to Honey Shaw and the SBA for their support of this wonderful idea.

cards

Faculty Reading List – Summer 2017

Reading_a_book_by_the_beachDid you ever wonder what your professors read in their spare time?  They certainly don’t sit around re-reading cases do they?

Of course they don’t! We asked the faculty if they had any suggestions for summer reading, and the did!  Without further ado, here are the GSU Law Faculty Summer Reading Suggestions.  We buy all the books on the list so see the hyperlinks for book descriptions and the Leisure Collection (to the right of the Ref Desk) to borrow.

 

1.  Lynn Hogue

2.  Nirej Sekon

3. Ramsi Woodcock

4. Jonathan Todres

5. Pam Brannon

6. Jonathan Germann

7. Kris Niedringhaus

8. Meg Butler

9. William Edmundson

10. Leslie Wolf

11. Lisa Radtke Bliss

12. Julian Juergensmeyer

13.  Tim Kuhner

14. Caren Morrison

15. Yaniv Heled

 

AND, last but certainly not least

15. Patrick Parsons

 

 

Famous Filibusters

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Last week, the US Senate took historic action to change the cloture requirement to end a filibuster of Supreme Court nominees.  In the beginning, there was no cloture.  Senators could filibuster the Senate floor for as long as they liked.  However in 1973, at the urging of president Woodrow Wilson, senators adopted rule 22 which would allow cloture, or the cessation of discussion of a bill by a two thirds vote.  This threshold was reduced to our current three-fifths threshold in 1975.  Now, the Senate once again acts to reduce the cloture requirement on filibustering Supreme Court justices to a simple majority.

Nonetheless, the filibuster of the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Gorsuch is just one of many famous filibusters.  So, without further ado, here are a few famous filibusters I thought particularly entertaining.

 

  1. Strom Thurmond 1964 – Against the Civil Rights ActStrom_Thurmond

On April 11, 1964, famed South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond began the longest filibuster on record.  In an attempt to block the Civil Rights Act, Senator Thurmond spoke on the Senate for 24 hours and 18 minutes.  The transcript of his speech is still available through the congressional record .Senator Thurmond began by reading every state’s voter intimidation laws.  He continued, switching between articles and court cases supporting his arguments.  It was reported that Senator Thurmond stopped to “relieve” himself only twice – once when he yielded the floor to Barry Goldwater for an insertion of business into the congressional record, and once when his staffers set up a bucket in the cloakroom so Senator Thurmond could keep one foot on the Senate floor. [1]  Senator Thurmond had prepared for his marathon session by taking steam baths the day before to rid his body of excess liquid. [2]  Senator Thurmond went on to become the oldest serving senator in history, dying in office at the age of 100.

 

  1. Rand Paul 2013 – Against the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA DirectorRand_Paul_Filibuster

On March 6, Rand Paul began a filibuster designed to delay voting the confirmation of John Brennan,  President Obama’s nomination to head the CIA.  Senator Paul was particularly concerned about the domestic usage of drones to attack non-combatants.  The filibuster lasted 12 hours and 52 minutes, until Paul received a letter from then Attorney General Eric Holder stating that the President did not have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American non-combatant on American soil.[3]

 

  1. Huey Long 1935 – Against Not Requiring Senate Confirmation for National Recovery Act 927px-HueyPLongGestureLeadership

Senator Huey Long of Louisiana is often described as the master of the filibuster.  On June 12, 1935, he spoke for 15 hours and 35 minutes.  After noticing that many of his colleagues had fallen asleep at their desks, he suggested to John Nance Garner, who was presiding at the time, that everyone should be forced to listen to him until excused.  Garner replied that it would be “unusual cruelty” under the bill of rights.  After Senator Long ran out of prepared material, he solicited the chamber asking for “ any point on which [they need[ed] advice.”  While no senators took him up on his offer, some of the press in attendance sent down questions.  After providing said advice, , he provided his recipes for fried oysters and potlikker[4].

 

  1. “Fighting Bob” La Follette 1908- Against Arming Merchant ships To Fight Germans, Robert_La_Follette_Srand Other Things he Didn’t Like

Fighting Bob was a Wisconsin senator so opposed the outfitting of these ships that he started his own filibuster.  When angered by some procedural malarkey, LaFolette “lost his temper and came close to throwing his brass spittoon.”[5] Several in attendance reported that a number of Senators were carrying weapons and were likely to use them if the argument came to blows.  Several months later Senator La Follette was in the midst of yet another filibuster on the very last day of the session in June, against the adoption of a conference report.  After 12 hours, he sent a page to the senate restaurant for a turkey sandwich and a glass of milk “fortified with eggs” too keep up his energy.  However, the kitchen staff, who were none too happy about having to work through the night, had other plans.  When making his milk the kitchen used spoiled eggs.  After two sips, Fighting Bob soon experienced digestive difficulties and began sweating profusely.    LaFolette spoke throughout the night until his filibuster was taken over by a colleague at 7am.  The whole thing lasted 18 hours and 23 minutes.  Later analysis revealed that the spoiled eggs contained so much bacteria that it would have likely killed senator Follette if he had drank the whole glass. [6]

[1] http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/03/07/173736882/how-did-strom-thurmond-last-through-his-24-hour-filibuster

[2] http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/on-this-day/July-August-08/On-this-Day–Strom-Thurmond-Ends-Longest-Filibuster-in-Senate-History.html

[3] http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/07/obama-administration-responds-to-paul-on-drones/

[4] https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Huey_Long_Filibusters.htm

[5] http://mentalfloss.com/article/49360/5-famous-filibusters

[6] https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/A_Deadly_Drink.htm