U.S. Law

You can now read the FRUS on your iPad, Kindle, or Nook!

Photo of Brandt-Nixon meeting in the White House in 1973

Brandt-Nixon, White House, 1973 (National Archives)

The 151-year-old Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) “presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity.” It is a useful research tool for legal historians and international law scholars and practitioners.  As Mary L. Dudziak states in her Legal History Blog post, “[The FRUS] records are not only valuable for historians of U.S. foreign relations, but can shed light on other topics related to global reaction to events in the United States, constitutional development in other nations, and more.”

The FRUS has been online for free at the Department of State’s website for some time now, from 1861-1976, from the Lincoln to the Nixon-Ford administrations.  It’s also available via the University of Wisconsin and HeinOnline.  But now, as part of the DOS Office of the Historian’s “E-Books Initiative,” you can read selected FRUS volumes via your iPad, Nook, or Kindle!   The first volumes, released on March 8th in ePub and Mobipocket formats, cover 1964-1976:

 Can’t wait till they go back all the way to the 19th century!

Photo of Ulysses S. Grant & Li Hung Chang, Tientsin, China, 1879

Ulysses S. Grant & Li Hung Chang, Tientsin, China 1879 (CC Flickr by Yaohua2k7)

Women’s legal history

Public domain photo of Sophonisba P. Breckenridge

Sophonisba P. Breckenridge

My record there was not distinguished, but the faculty and students were kind, and the fact that the law school like the rest of the University … accepted men and women students on equal terms was publicly settled.Sophonisba Breckinridge (J.D. 1904).

For biographical information about Ms. Breckinridge and other women in the law in the United States, check the free Women’s Legal History website at Stanford. Under the “WLH Biography Project” tab, you can search for biographies of women lawyers by name, year, race/ethnicity, law school, legal practice area, state, region, and time period.  The biographical sketches include professional facts, pioneering accomplishments, photos if available, and materials for further research. Under the same tab, you can do a bibliographic search, browse historiographical articles and other materials (such as a 2011 women’s legal history bibliography by Paul Lomio in PDF), and view related web resources.  You can also browse for bios of women lawyers by last name. The University of Chicago Law School’s first woman graduate, Sophonisba Preston Breckinridge, is in the WLH database. She founded the University’s School of Social Service Administration and helped found the Chicago chapter of the NAACP. Additional bio info is available via Professor Geoffrey Stone’s 1994 Law School Record article, “In Honor of Nisba,” a 1948 article via JSTOR, and her Papers in the Library’s Special Collections Research Center. 

Another Chicagoan (and an SSAd graduate), Edith Spurlock Sampson Clayton, was the first African-American woman to be elected a judge in the United States (1962). President Truman appointed her to represent the United States as an alternate delegate to the United Nations (1950). You can find more information about her (as Edith Sampson) in the online Encyclopedia of African-American History, 1896 to the Present (Paul Finkelman ed., Oxford University Press, 2009).

HeinOnline adds new legislative content

HeinOnline announced today that it is digitizing Covington & Burling’s prestigious congressional committee hearings collection. The initial release includes nearly 3,000 hearings and 1 million pages of content covering hearings from the 71st Congress (1927) through the 103rd Congress (1994). Once this backfile is complete, the hearings collection will contain more than 16,000 hearings and 5 million pages of content. The hearings will be available as a subcollection in HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents Collection and made available to all U.S. Congressional Documents Collection.

Read about the history and significance of this law firm library collection in Stephen Margeton’s article “Of Legislative Histories and Librarians.” Law Library Journal 85 (1993): 81-98. 

Black history at the United Nations

Photo of W.E.B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois, c. 1920 by Winold Reiss (CC Some rights reserved by cliff1066™)

It is not Russia that threatens the United States so much as Mississippi…[I]nternal injustice done to one’s brothers is far more dangerous than the aggression of strangers from abroad.” — W.E.B. DuBois

On October 23, 1947, the NAACP sent to the UN a document titled “An Appeal to the World,” in which the NAACP asked the UN to redress human rights violations the United States committed against its African-American citizens. W.E.B. Du Bois, who drafted the NAACP petition with the assistance of Earl B. Dickerson (J.D. ’20), William Robert Ming, Jr. (J.D. ’33), and other leading lawyers and scholars, intended to focus attention on the U.S.’s systematic denial of human rights to its Black citizens.  The lawyers and scholars gathered and presented in the petition facts about lynching, segregation, and the gross inequalities in education, housing, health care, and voting rights. 

“At first [the American Negro] was driven from the polls in the South by mobs and violence; and then he was openly cheated; finally by a ‘Gentlemen’s agreement’ with the North, that Negro was disfranchised in the South by a series of laws, methods of administration, court decisions, and general public policy, so that today, three-fourths of the Negro population of the nation is deprived of the right to vote by open and declared policy.”

In addition, the petition argued that the racial discrimination in American made it not a good location for the United Nations:

“Most people of the world are more or less colored in skin; their presence at the meetings of the United Nations as participants and as visitors, renders them always liable to insult and to discrimination; because they may be mistaken for Americans of Negro descent.

Not very long ago the nephew of the ruler of a neighboring American state, was killed by policemen in Florida because he was mistaken for a Negro and thought to be demanding rights which a Negro in Florida is not legally permitted to demand.  Again and more recently in Illinois, the personal physician of Mahatma Ghandi, one of the great men of the world and an ardent supporter of the United Nations, was with his friends refused food in a restaurant, again because they were mistaken for Negroes.  In a third case, a great insurance society in the United States in its development of a residential area, which would serve for housing the employees of the United Nations, is insisting in reserving the right to discriminate against the persons received as residents for reasons of race and color.”

Reactions to the petition were varied, but strong.  Eleanor Roosevelt, a driving force behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, notably reacted adversely to the petition.  From Cold War Civil Rights (Dudziak, at 45):

“Although Eleanor Roosevelt, a member of board of directors of the NAACP, was also a member of the American delegation to the United Nations, she refused to introduce the NAACP petition in the United Nations out of concern that it woud harm the international reputation of the United States.  According to Du Bois, the American delegation had ‘refused to bring the curtailment of our civil rights to the attention of th General Assembly [and] refused willingly to allow any other nation to bring this matter up. If any should, Mr. [sic] Roosevelt has declared that she would probably resign from the United Nations delegation.’ The Soviet Union, however, proposed that the NAACP’s charges be investigated.  On December 4, 1947, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights rejected that proposal, and the United Nations took no action on the petition.”

W.E.B. Du Bois conceived of the idea of the NAACP petition from an earlier petition by the National Negro Congress submitted to the UN on June 6, 1946.  Mr. Du Bois participated in a later petition submitted to the UN by the Civil Rights Congress called “We Charge Genocide” (1952).  Sources for the text of these petitions and works about them are listed below.


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  An Appeal to the World!  A Statement on the Denial of Human Rights to Minorities in the Case of Citizens of Negro Descent in the United States of America and an Appeal to the United Nations for Redress   (New York:  NAACP, 1947)(prepared under the editorial supervision of W.E. Burghardt Du Bois, with contributions by Earl B. Dickerson, Milton R. Konvitz, William R. (Robert) Ming, Jr., Leslie S. Perry, and Rayford W. Logan).  Regenstein, Bookstacks.  JK1924.N3.  [excerpts online via the Library of Congress]

We Charge Genocide; The Historic Petition to the United Nations for Relief from a Crime of the United States Government Against the Negro People (U.S. Civil Rights Congress, New York, 1952). Regenstein, Bookstacks.  E185.61.C6 1970 [online via Hathi Trust]

Carol Anderson, Eyes Off the Prize:  The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955 (Cambridge University Press, 2003).  D’Angelo Law Library, Bookstacks.  E185.61.A543 2003 c.2

Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights:  Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2000  & 2011).  D’Angelo Law Library, Bookstacks.  E185.61.D85 2000 c.1

Langston Hughes (with Christopher C. De Santis ed.), Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights 114-116 (University of Missouri Press, 2001)(The Collected Works of Langston Hughes, v.10).  [ebrary eBook]

William L. Krenn (ed.), The African American Voice in U.S. Foreign Policy Since World War II (v.5 of Race and U.S. Foreign Policy from the Colonial Period to the Present:  A Collection of Essays)(Garland, 1998).  D’Angelo Law Library, Bookstacks.  E744.R168 1998 v.5

David Levering Lewis, W.E.B. DuBois (v. 2, The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963) (H. Holt/MacMillan, 2001).  D’Angelo Law Library, Bookstacks.  E185.9.D73L480 1993 v.2

Jonathan Rosenberg, How Far the Promised Land?:  World Affairs and the American Civil Rights Movement from the First World War to Vietnam (Princeton University Press, 2006).  Regenstein, Bookstacks.  E185.61.R8155 2006

Patricia Sullivan, Lift Every Voice:  The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement 323 (New Press, 2009).  Regenstein, Bookstacks.  E185.5.N276 S85 2009  [ebrary eBook]

Sondra K. Wilson, In Search of Democracy:  The NAACP Writings of James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and Roy Wilkins (1920-1977) 197 (Oxford University Press, 1999).  Regenstein, Bookstacks.  E185.61.I513 1999 [ebrary eBook]

Walter Wilson (ed.), The Selected Writings of W.E.B. Du Bois (New American Library, 1970).

Howard Winant, The World Is a Ghetto:  Race and Democracy Since World War II (Basic Books, 2001).  Regenstein, Bookstacks.  HT1521.W56 2001

Martin Luther King, Jr. in Oslo

Today, America celebrates the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.  As part of the celebration, you can read about his speeches at the University of Chicago here.  You can also “voice your dream” at the MLK dream wall and on Twitter (see also photos).

Photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. left behind a great international legacy.  The words of his 1964 Nobel lecture, The Quest for Peace and Justice, reverberate with renewed meaning today, as he said,

“The deep rumbling of discontent that we hear today is the thunder of disinherited masses, rising from dungeons of oppression to the bright hills of freedom…  Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life? …. There is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will. ” 

His acceptance speech (audio) for his Nobel Peace Prize highlights his non-violent philosophy, dreams for a better world, the importance of acting to change the world, and never losing hope.  Very inspiring!:

“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits…When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.”



Friday Fun: Lawyers in comics

Ever wondered about superhero lawyers?  If so, you are not alone.  Jesse Thompson’s article in the November 2011 issue of the ABA Journal, “Zoinks!  There’s a Lawyer Wearing Spandex!,” features a gallery of The Top 10 Lawyers in Comics.  There’s a little debate in the Comments section about why he did not list Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.  But Two-Face (from Batman Forever and The Dark Knight) and She-Hulk make the list.  Matthew Catania’s The 13 Top Lawyers in Comic Books includes The Living Tribunal and Alanna Wolff and Jeff Byrd (of Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre by Batton Lash fame).

The great thing is that you can get comic books featuring lawyers right here in Hyde Park.  First Aid Comics recently moved to 55th & Cornell (from 53d & Harper).  And U of C law student, Carmelo Chimera, has a comic book store, Chimera’s Comics, in La Grange, Illinois.


Two-Face (CC photo by Shaun Wong on Flickr)

For even more lawyers in comics, and superheroes and the law generally, check:

New Hinton Moot Court resource guide

Are you participating in this year’s Hinton Moot Court Competition? If so, you may want to consult the Law Library’s new Hinton Moot Court resource guide. It contains a list of books about appellate advocacy, as well as links to where you can find transcripts and audio recordings of oral arguments made before the U.S. Supreme Court. Incidentally, the Supreme Court has just posted transcripts from today’s arguments in Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye, mere hours after the arguments took place. Isn’t technology amazing?

Baseball and the law

The 2011 World Series has a law connection.  St. Louis Cardinals manager, Tony LaRussa, received his J.D. from Florida State University and passed the Florida bar (though he never practiced law).  And, in keeping with the Cardinals' law-mindedness, Cardinals center fielder, Jon Jay, is nicknamed “The Federalist” and “The Founding Father” (and “Chief Justice” sometimes), after John Jay.

One source (at p.2) quotes Tony LaRussa as saying:  “Law school didn't teach me how to hit the ball or how to run or how to pitch.  But, because of law school, I see the game playing out in front of me on the field in a very different way.  My legal training taught me to put myself in our opponents' dugout.  Law school taught me how to analyze and how to best deal with a specific situation…The best degree a baseball manager can get is a J.D.  The law degree taught me how to study, how to think, and how to implement and develop a strategy.”

Locally, we have Chicago, law, and baseball connections.  University of Chicago Law School grad, Ross E. Davies, wrote in his 2010 article, “It's No Game:  The Practice and Process of the Law in Baseball, and Vice Versa” (via HeinOnline (subscription) and SSRN (free)), that Mark Mosier, J.D. '04, played for the San Francisco Giants before attending the Law School.  According to his Covington & Burling bio, Mark Mosier played minor league baseball for the Giants from 1997-1999.

Baseball has a long legal history.  In 1791, Pittsfield, Massachusetts' town council enacted bylaw prohibiting baseball playing within 80 yards of its meeting house building.  On September 28, 1920, several Chicago White Sox players were indicted for trying to “fix” the 1919 World Series.  The “Black Sox Scandal” led to the election of federal judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis as Commissioner of baseball in November 1920 (and a related movie, Eight Men Out).  Judge Landis refused until the owners signed the Major League Baseball agreement in 1921.  He was the first Commissioner of baseball.

Other legal issues involving Major League Baseball include labor law, antitrust law (Curtis Flood case: does the reserve clause violate antitrust laws?), torts (is a fan entitled to compensation if injured by a batted baseball?), crime (is a baseball bat a deadly weapon?), and wills (is the fact that a testator discourages people from attending baseball games evidence of insanity?).  And Davies reports that, in the month before he wrote his article, “courts issued reported opinions in 110 cases involving baseball in one way or another.”

In another Chicago Law and baseball connection, the Green Bag 2d (edited by Ross Davies) issued the “Supreme Court Sluggers” series of baseball cards.  Justice Antonin Scalia (former Law School prof) is depicted as a catcher.  The Scalia card includes his “stats” (judicial opinions) to June 28, 2011.  

Law professor Robert M. Cover created a Law-Baseball Quiz in 1979 which compared major legal baseball players with Supreme Court justices.  You can play an enlarged version of it created by law professors Jerry Goldman and Paul Manna called Oyez® Baseball.

Oyez Baseball logo

Interested in baseball and the law?  Check out these books we have in the Law Library collection:

  • Bargaining with Baseball:  Labor Relations in an Age of Prosperous Turmoil (William B. Gould IV, McFarland & Co., 2011)
  • Baseball and the American Legal Mind (Spencer Weber Waller, Neil B. Cohen & Paul Finkelman eds., Garland, 1995)
  • Courting the Yankees:  Legal Essays on the Bronx Bombers (Ettie Ward ed., Carolina Academic Press, 2003)
  • Eight Men Out:  The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series (Eliot Asinof, Henry Holt & Co., 1987)
  • Legal Bases:  Baseball and the Law (Roger I. Abrams, Temple University Press, 1998)
  • The Little White Book of Baseball Law (John H. Minan & Kevin Cole, ABA, 2009)

The Making of Modern Law: Primary Sources 1620-1926

The Making of Modern Law: Primary Sources 1620-1926 is a fully searchable digital archive of cases, statues, and regulations in America’s history, including historical state codes, state constitutional conventions and compilations, city charters, law dictionaries, digests and published records of the American colonies.  More specific information about the collection is at http://gdc.gale.com/products/the-making-of-modern-law-primary-sources-1620-1926/# .  The Primary Sources collection is a complement to The Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises 1800-1926, the “world’s most comprehensive full-text collection of Anglo-American legal treatises of the period.” (from the product website) Both collections are linked from the Law Library website's Law Databases page (http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/law/db/ ) – a wealth of historical information at your fingertips.

New U.S. Supreme Court term starts

Today is the first Monday in October, and the start of the 2011 term of the United States Supreme Court. High-profile cases before the court include the health care reform’s individual mandate provision, which has split the circuits, and Arizona’s SB1070, dealing with illegal aliens. Also, the Court may rule for a second time on the fine for Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl, and other challenges to the FCC's indecency rules. Check our Supreme Court Research Guide for sources for news, case information, briefs, and oral arguments.