Author Archives: kathywol

A New Tool to Identify Legislative Histories: Proquest: Legislative Insight


Wally Gobetz, Washington DC: Capitol Hill: United States Capital, Flickr Photostream (June 6, 2009),

Whether you are tracing a statute’s history for your summer internship or for a paper you are writing, you will want to use a new tool the library recently acquired, Proquest’s Legislative Insight.  Often researching legislative histories can be cumbersome and time consuming.   Legislative Insight promises to streamline the process by digitizing and by publishing online the majority of full text publications associated with a legislative history.  These documents include all versions of enacted and related bills, Congressional Record excerpts, and committee hearings, reports, and documents.  Legislative Insight also includes other related material such as committee prints, CRS reports and Presidential signing statements. Furthermore, Legislative Insight offers a research citation page that not only links to the full text of the associated primary source publications, but allows the user to do a Search Within from that very page that searches the full text of all the associated publications with one-click.

To access Legislative Insight from off-campus, you first need to implement the proxy instructions.


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DOMA and the Same Sex Marriage Debate

This past Thursday the 1st Circuit held that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional on equal protection grounds.  If you want to learn more about the debate surrounding DOMA and same sex marriage, the library owns several resources that discuss the issues.  Listed below are a few of the more current sources on the topic.

Alison M. Smith, Cong. Research Serv., RL 31994, Same Sex Marriages: Legal Issues (2012)

Summary: The recognition of same-sex marriages generates debate on both the federal and state levels. Currently, federal law does not recognize same-sex marriages. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), P.L. 104-199, prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows individual states to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in other states. This report discusses DOMA and legal challenges to it. It reviews legal principles applied to determine the validity of a marriage contracted in another state and surveys the various approaches employed by states to enable or to prevent same-sex marriage. This report also examines House and Senate resolutions introduced in previous Congresses proposing a constitutional amendment and limiting federal courts’ jurisdiction to hear or determine any question pertaining to the interpretation of DOMA.

Jaye Cee Whitehead, The Nuptial Deal: Same-Sex Marriage and Neo Liberal Governance (2012)

Summary from University of Chicago Press Books:  Since the 1990s, gay and lesbian civil rights organizations have increasingly focused on the right of same-sex couples to marry, which represents a major change from earlier activists’ rejection of the institution. Centering on the everyday struggles, feelings, and thought of marriage equality activists, The Nuptial Deal explores this shift and its connections to the transformation of the United States from a welfare state to a neo-liberal one in which families carry the burden of facing social problems.

Caroline Sorgjerd, Reconstructing Marriage: The Legal Status of Relationships in a Changing Society (2012)

Summary from Intersentia Press: In Reconstructing Marriage – The Legal Status of Relationships in a Changing Society Caroline Sörgjerd explores the essence of the institution of marriage: what is the meaning of marriage today, how has marriage been influenced by the legal recognition of new cohabitation models and what should be the role of the institution of marriage in the future?

The Respect for Marriage Act: Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American Families: Hearing on S. 598 Before the S. Comm. on the Judiciary, 112th Cong. 1 (2011)(written testimony of the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law).

Summary: Discussion and statistical analysis of the effects of the Defense of Marriage Act on same-sex couples in the United States.

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Need to Print in a Hurry: Computer Added to the Library’s First Floor

Recently, a third computer station was added to the first floor of the Library.  The computer is located across the room from the reference desk, alongside two other computers. Students should use this computer to send print jobs to the first floor printer release station.  We ask that students be considerate of their peers and not use the computer for email or web browsing when another student is waiting to send a print job to the release station.

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New Course Offering: Advanced Legal Research: New York Civil Litigation

Working in New York this Summer?  Need to sharpen your research skills? Then register for Advanced Legal Research: New York Civil Litigation.  The class, which is taught by Reference Librarian and Prof. Kathleen Darvil, follows the research process from the initial client interview through the final appellate judgment.  The intensive course runs from May 14-17, 2012.  The class meets from 6:00 pm-9:30pm, Monday-Thursday.  For more information please email Kathleen Darvil at

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Oxford Scholarship Online: American History

Recently the Brooklyn Law School Library licensed four online e book collections from Oxford Scholarship Online.  They are American History: Early to 18th Century; American History: 19th Century; American History: Civil War; and American History: 20th Century.  The collections, which contain a total of 162 new titles, cover American History from its colonial beginnings through the United States emergence as a super power in the 20th Century.  Listed below is a sampling of the titles in the various modules, as well as a brief description of the books from Oxford University Press.

William E. Nelson, The Common Law of Colonial America (2008).

The four-volume series of which this book is the first volume shows how the legal systems of Britain’s thirteen North American colonies, which were initially established in response to divergent political, economic, and religious initiatives, slowly converged until it became possible by the 1770s to imagine that all thirteen participated in a common American legal order, which diverged in its details but differed far more substantially from English common law. This book reveals how Virginians’ zeal for profit led to the creation of a harsh legal order that efficiently squeezed payment out of debtors and labor out of servants. In comparison, Puritan law in early Massachusetts strove mainly to preserve the local autonomy and moral values of family-centered, subsistence farming communities. The law in the other New England colonies, although it was distinctive in some respects, gravitated toward the Massachusetts model, while Maryland’s law, except during a brief interlude of Puritan rule, gravitated toward that of Virginia. Oxford Scholarship Online, (last visited April 11, 2012).

Steven Casey, Selling the Korean War (2008).

How presidents spark and sustain support for wars remains an enduring and significant problem. Korea was the first limited war the United States experienced in the contemporary period—the first recent war fought for something less than total victory. This book explores how Truman and then Eisenhower tried to sell it to the American public. Based on primary sources, this book explores the government’s selling activities from all angles. It looks at the halting and sometimes chaotic efforts of Truman and Acheson, Eisenhower and Dulles. It examines the relationships that they and their subordinates developed with a host of other institutions, from Congress and the press to Hollywood and labor. And it assesses the complex and fraught interactions between the military and war correspondents in the battlefield theater itself. Oxford Scholarship Online, (last visited April 11, 2012).

Thelma Wills Foote, Black and White Manhattan (2004).

Race first emerged as an important ingredient of New York City’s melting pot when it was known as New Amsterdam and was a fledgling colonial outpost on the North American frontier. This book details the arrival of the first immigrants, including African slaves, and traces encounters between the town’s inhabitants of African, European, and Native American descent, showing how racial domination became key to the building of the settler colony at the tip of Manhattan Island. Oxford Scholarship Online, (last visited April 11, 2012).

J. Matthew Gallman, America’s Joan of Arc (2006).

One of the most celebrated women of her time, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson was a charismatic orator, writer, and actress, who rose to fame during the Civil War and remained in the public eye for the next three decades. This book offers a full-length biography of Dickinson. The book describes how Dickinson’s passionate patriotism and fiery style, coupled with her abolitionism and biting critiques of anti-war Democrats struck a nerve with her audiences. Oxford Scholarship Online, (last visited April 11, 2012).

 Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO) is the online platform for Oxford University Press.  OSO recently updated the design of its website, allowing for greater search and browse capabilities and user customization.  This new platform will allow BLS students, faculty, and staff to efficiently research American History.

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Selected Separation of Powers Resources at the BLS Library

Eric E. Johnson, U.S. Capitol no. 6605, (last visited Nov. 22, 2011)

As the so called “supercommittee” failed to trim the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion, many are questioning whether or not the American Political system works. [1]  The Congressional failure raises questions on the efficacy of the separation of powers doctrine and the principle of checks and balances.  To learn more about these basic tenets of American Constitutional Law, there are several resources available to you at Brooklyn Law School.  Listed below are a few of the Library’s more current sources:

Eoin Carolan, The New Separation of Powers: A Theory for the Modern State (2009).

Excerpt taken from book:

This book offers a radical & provocative revision of the theory of separation of powers. It argues that, although designed to protect democracy, separation of powers is often used today to undermine it by concealing & centralising the exercise of power by public officials. The theory is then reinvented for the modern regulatory state.

Louis Fischer, Constitutional Conflicts between Congress and the President (5th ed. 2007).

Excerpt taken from book:

Nearly three decades after its initial publication, Louis Fisher’s durable classic remains at the head of its class–a book that Congressional Quarterly called “as close to being indispensable as anything published in this field.” This newly revised and updated fifth edition emphatically reinforces that sterling reputation.

Fisher dissects the crucial constitutional disputes between the executive and legislative branches of government from the Constitutional Convention through President Clinton’s impeachment battles to the recent controversies over President Bush’s conduct as commander in chief. He ventures beyond traditional discussions of Supreme Court decisions to examine the day-to-day working relationships between the president and Congress.

To scholars, this book offers a comprehensive examination of the institutions and issues of public law. For practitioners, general readers, and students of American government, it demonstrates how constitutional issues shape and define current events.

Thomas Campbell, Separation of Powers in Practice (2004).

Excerpt taken from book:

Each branch of American government possesses inherent advantages and disadvantages in structure. In this book, the author relies on a separation-of-powers analysis that emphasizes the advantage of the legislature to draft precise words to fit intended situations, the judiciary’s advantage of being able to do justice in an individual case, and the executive’s homogeneity and flexibility, which best suits it to decisions of an ad hoc nature.

Identifying these structural abilities, the author analyzes major public policy issues, including gun control, flag burning, abortion, civil rights, war powers, suing the President, legislative veto, the exclusionary rule, and affirmative action. Each issue is examined not from the point of view of determining the right outcome, but with the intention of identifying the branch of government most appropriate for making the decision.

[1] Michael Cooper, A Failure is Absorbed with Disgust and Fear, but Little Surprise, N.Y. Times, Nov. 22, 2011, A19.

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Locating & Creating Lists on SARA

Lists are a new feature of our new and improved library catalog.  Lists are exactly what you would expect them to be: lists of items that are somehow related.  The library maintains several public lists (lists that are accessible to everyone) including the new book list and the course reserve list.  To access these lists simply go to the following web address: and click on the “Lists” button.  You should see a list of all the public lists.  See screen shot below.  Selecting any of the lists will allow you to view the items in that list. 

Besides the library’s maintained lists, users can create their own lists to keep track of their library research.  To do so, you first need to login to your account with your BLS username and password.  Once logged in, click on the “Lists” button again and then click on “Manage Lists.”   See screen shot below.

At the next screen, click on the link for “New List.”  You will be prompted to create either a public list or private list.  As stated above, a public list, as its name implies, would be available to the public.  A private list can only be viewed by you when you are logged into SARA. 

To add an item to your list, simply run a search query.  Once you have identified a relevant item, click on the link “Save to Lists.”  See screen shot below.

You will then be prompted to select the list to which you wish to save the item.  We are excited about this new feature and hope it helps students and faculty members to organize and to keep track of their research.

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