Same-Sex Marriage Cases Set for Oral Argument

All eyes and cameras (outside anyway) will be on the U.S. Supreme Court next week as the justices hear oral argument on March 26 in Hollingsworth v. Perry (California Proposition 8) and March 27 in United States v. Windsor (the Defense of Marriage Act). The question presented in each of these cases are provided in a previous blog post.

It will be hard to avoid the flood of commentary in media outlets about these cases. Scotus Blog is highly recommended for accurate reporting on all things happening at the Court.The blog has extensive previews of both Hollingsworth and Windsor.

Audio recordings of the arguments should be available on the Supreme Court Website on Friday, March  29.


Supreme Court Interprets First Sale Doctrine

If you have ever checked a book out of this or any other library, then you have been the beneficiary of the “First Sale Doctrine.” Under 17 U.S.C. § 109:

…the owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.

This provision is at the heart of much of what libraries do—loan materials to patrons. It also allows you to gather up all your long ignored novels or old textbooks and sell them on Ebay.

The question addressed in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. is whether this right of resale/redistribution extends to someone who pushes the envelope by purchasing numerous copies of an American publisher’s textbooks, lawfully produced overseas, and reselling them at a hefty profit here in the U.S. Yesterday, the Supreme Court answered affirmatively, holding ” that the ‘first sale’ doctrine applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad.”



Gideon v. Wainwright: 50th Anniversary

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), in which the Court held that a state criminal defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The opinion states, in part:

The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours. From the very beginning, our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law. This noble ideal cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.

Andrew Lewis tells Gideon’s story case in the legal classic, Gideon’s Trumpet—widely considered a must-read for law students.


Spring Break Hours March 9-16

The Law Library will be open the following hours:

  • Saturday March 9:  Noon –  6pm  
  • Sunday March 10:  Noon – 8pm
  • Mon.-Thurs. March 11-14: 8am – 9pm
  • Friday March 15:  8am – 6pm
  • Saturday March 16:  Noon –  6pm

The Reference Office will be open Monday-Friday 9am – 5pm.

Tracking State Legislation

The Sunlight Foundation has launched Open States. This service allows you to track bills and search for upcoming legislation for all states, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and access campaign and contact information for state legislators.

As noted here previously, the Sunlight Foundation also supports Scout—offering free searching and customized alerts for federal and state legislative action (including bills & speeches) and federal regulations.