LAWSUIT! Board Game: A Fun Award-Winning Legal-Themed Board Game for Christmas

Learn what it’s like to be a lawyer with this fun, award-winning, board game for the whole family.  LAWSUIT! is a game night favorite, and makes a great holiday gift.

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On This Date in Legal History

On November 26, 1973, former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Charles Whittaker passed away.  He served on the Court from March 1957-March 1962. Learn more about this interesting jurist at https://goo.gl/Ty3Vb4.

Charles Whittaker

Charles Whittaker

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On This Date in Legal History

On November 25, 1757, Henry Brockholst Livingston was born in New York City.  In 1806 President Thomas Jefferson appointed him to the Supreme Court.  From 1807-1823 he served as an Associate Justice on the Court.

Henry Brockholst Livingston

Henry Brockholst Livingston

You can learn more about him at https://goo.gl/X6wSwW.  An interesting tidbit– this Justice killed another man in a duel.  Read more at https://goo.gl/t39pkA.

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The Movie “Suffragette”

Suffragette tells the story of how in the early 20th century British women took extraordinary steps to win the right to vote.  Women became militant after realizing their voices weren’t being heard. The storyline dramatizes certain actual events and the lives of a few well-known suffragists, so it makes for an entertaining history lesson.  In 1918 British women over the age of 30, who met certain qualifications, were granted the right to vote.  Read more at http://goo.gl/RtRLmJ and http://goo.gl/vavzZs.  On August 26, 1920, the 19th amendment became law in the United States.  Take a look at the amendment to our Constitution at  http://goo.gl/rl6EWH.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Parade at Columbus Circle

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at Columbus Circle

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On This Date in Legal History

In the case of Reed v. Reed, Sally Reed and her former husband, Cecil, each petitioned an Idaho Probate Court to be appointed administrator of their son’s estate. The Court appointed Cecil Reed without analyzing either parent’s qualifications, since an Idaho law dating back to 1864, mandated that males be preferred over females as representatives. Sally Reed argued the statute was unconstitutional.

Attorneys of record for Sally Reed-- Allen Derr & Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Attorneys of record for Sally Reed– Allen Derr & Ruth Bader Ginsberg

On this day in 1971, the Supreme Court agreed and found the Idaho law violated the Equal Protection Clause.  You can listen to the oral argument at https://goo.gl/1Q9gsd. Notably, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was one of the attorneys of record for Sally Reed.

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On This Date in Legal History

On November 21, 1945, former Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson delivered his opening statement at the Nuremberg trial.

The Nuremberg trial defendants.

The Nuremberg trial defendants.

Listen to his recorded statement at https://goo.gl/CMouay.

 

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On This Date in Legal History

On November 20, 1961, the United States Supreme Court decided Hoyt v. Florida. The case involved an all-male jury convicting Gwendolyn Hoyt of killing her husband. In Florida women were excluded from jury service unless they proactively registered with the clerk of the court. Consequently, there were disproportionately more men in the jury pool. Hoyt argued the lack of women on her jury left her at a disadvantage. She felt “women jurors would have been more understanding or compassionate than men in assessing the quality of [her] act and her defense of ‘temporary insanity.’” She claimed that Florida jury law violated her equal protection rights. The Supreme Court (unanimously) disagreed.

JOHN M. HARLAN II

JOHN M. HARLAN II

Justice Harlan explained–  the Constitution “does not entitle one accused of [a] crime to a jury tailored to the circumstances of the particular case, whether relating to the sex or other condition of the defendant, or to the nature of the charges to be tried.” The Court also found that it was reasonable to exempt women from jury service–because unlike men, “they were responsible for home and family life.” Hoyt’s conviction was affirmed. Listen to the attorneys argue this case at http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1961/1961_31. Notably, this case has been overturned.

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PBS’s documentary The Poisoner’s Handbook

PBS’s documentary The Poisoner’s Handbook traces the history of how forensic science was introduced into the courtroom. The film focuses on the pioneering work of two doctors—Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler. In 1918, Charles Norris became New York City’s first Chief Medical Examiner, and he created the first toxicology lab in the country. Toxicologist Alexander Gettler headed that lab.

Charles Norris and Alexander Gettler in their lab. Photo courtesy of Dorothea Atzl

For the first time science was introduced into the criminal justice system to help solve crimes. You can watch this excellent documentary at http://goo.gl/fFbvv7 and learn more at http://goo.gl/UVdtm5.

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A Movie You Might Find Interesting–

Have you seen the movie Bridge of Spies?  The film dramatizes the arrest and conviction of Soviet spy Rudolf Ivanovich Abel for espionage in 1957. James Donovan, a respected insurance lawyer, is pressured to scale back his defense of the spy, but he refuses and upholds his ethical obligation to zealously represent him. Donovan expresses his unwavering belief in the rule of law, and the need to uphold the protections guaranteed under the Constitution even during troubling times, such as the Cold War. He objects to the warrantless search of Abel’s apartment—and, in fact, his objection winds up before the United States Supreme Court (albeit the exterior of the iconic New York State Supreme Court building is shown in the scene rather than the Supreme Court).

Attorney James Donovan

Attorney James Donovan

You can read the Supreme Court’s decision at https://goo.gl/Sb9WE3.  I suggest watching this interesting documentary after you’ve seen the film– http://goo.gl/aN0csx.

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On This Date in Legal History

On November 17, 1980, the United States Supreme Court decided Stone, et al. v. Graham, Superintendent of Public Instruction of Kentucky.  The case arose after Kentucky legislators passed a law mandating the posting of the Ten Commandments in every public school classroom.  Parents sued the Superintendent of Schools claiming the law violated the Establishment Clause.  The Court (in a 5-4 decision) agreed and found the law unconstitutional.  The Court’s decision explains, “[t]he pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature.  The Ten Commandments are undeniably a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths and no legislative recitation of a supposed secular purpose can blind us to that fact.”

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On This Date in Legal History

In 1922 President Warren G. Harding, a Republican, appointed Pierce Butler, a Democrat from Minnesota, to the United States Supreme Court, breaking the tradition of appointing a justice from one’s own party.  Today, that would be unheard of.  On December 21, 1922, the Senate confirmed his nomination (by a 61-8 vote).  From 1923-1939 Justice Butler served on the Court. On November 16, 1939, the justice passed away.

Justice Pierce Butler

Justice Pierce Butler

Learn more at https://goo.gl/6JQLhV.

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On This Date in Legal History

On November 15, 1882, former Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter was born in Austria. In 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt nominated him to the United States Supreme Court. Unlike nowadays, it wasn’t customary for nominees to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, after his religious beliefs (he was Jewish), his associations with the ACLU, and his foreign birth came under attack, he relented. In the end, the Senate confirmed his nomination, and he served on the Court until he retired in 1962.

Justice Felix Frankfurter

Justice Felix Frankfurter

Learn more about his work as a lawyer, presidential advisor, professor, and justice at http://goo.gl/RoPCEe.

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On This Date in Legal History

In 1957 the Alabama legislature passed a law changing the boundaries of the City of Tuskegee to guarantee the election of white candidates. Only four or five African American voters were left within the City limits, yet not a single white voter was effected by the redistricting.  African American residents sued the Mayor claiming the law was unconstitutional. The case was entitled, Gomillion v. Lightfoot, Mayor of Tuskegee.

Lead Plaintiff Professor Charles Gomillion

Lead Plaintiff Professor Charles Gomillion

A lower court dismissed the case, and an appellate court affirmed the dismissal. The case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court.  You can listen to the Court proceedings at https://goo.gl/Z9vh46.  On November 14, 1960, the Court held if African American residents were intentionally “fenced out” of voting, then the State overstepped its authority. The Court remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.

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On This Date in Legal History

In 1914 Takao Ozawa applied for citizenship after living in the United States for twenty years. He was born in Japan, but attended high school and college here. He had children who attended American schools, and English was spoken in their home. The Naturalization Act greatly limited the number of aliens that could become citizens, except for Caucasians, so Mr. Ozawa’s petition was denied. His case eventually reached the United States Supreme Court.

Justice George Sutherland

Justice George Sutherland

On November 13, 1922, the Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling. Justice Sutherland explained, because Ozawa was born in Japan and was Japanese, he was ineligible to become a citizen. You can read the entire decision at https://goo.gl/9An2MQ.

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On This Date in Legal History

On November 12, 1908, Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun was born.

Justice Harry Blackmun

Justice Harry Blackmun

He’s probably best known as the author of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized a woman’s right to have an abortion during the first trimester.

 

 

 

 

Also on this date, but  in 1975, William O. Douglas retired from the Supreme Court. He was an outspoken advocate for the freedoms set forth in our Bill of Rights, and his libertarian views.

Justice William O. Douglas

Justice William O. Douglas

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On This Date in Legal History

On November 11, 1918, Germany and the Allied forces declared an armistice that brought fighting to an end in World War 1.  The following year “Armistice Day” was celebrated on November 11.  After World War 2 and the Korean War, the holiday was renamed “Veterans Day” to honor all soldiers who served in the armed forces.  In 1968, Congress amended the law so the holiday would be commemorated on a Monday, thus insuring a three-day weekend.  However, because of the historical significance of November 11, in 1975, President Ford signed a law restoring the observance of Veterans Day to November 11.  To learn more, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs at http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/.

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The Congressional Research Service’s Supreme Court Appointment Process: Senate Debate and Confirmation Vote report provides, in detail, what happens after the Senate formally receives from the President of the United States the name of a Supreme Court nominee.  Learn about the procedure for confirming a new Justice to the United States Supreme Court at https://goo.gl/U0M4nk.

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On This Date in Legal History

On November 9, 1938, Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada was argued before the United States Supreme Court.  The case arose after an African American student, Lloyd Gaines, was denied admission to the University of Missouri’s School of Law solely on the basis of his race.  At the time there was no law school for African American students in Missouri, so Gaines would’ve had to study in an adjacent state.  NAACP lawyer Charles Houston argued that Missouri had to build a law school for African American students, equal to the school for white students, or admit Gaines.

Attorney Charles Hamilton Houston

Attorney Charles Hamilton Houston

The Supreme Court agreed that “the State was bound to furnish [Lloyd Gaines] within its borders facilities for legal education substantially equal to those which the State there afforded for persons of the white race, whether or not other negroes sought the same opportunity.”  You can read the entire decision, authored by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, at https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/305/337.

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On This Date in Legal History

On November 8, 2014, President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch to replace Attorney General Eric Holder.  Listen to this informative video at https://goo.gl/9TIk8p.  After the Senate confirmed her nomination she became the first African-American woman to head the Department of Justice.

United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch

United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch

To learn more about the Office of the Attorney General visit https://www.justice.gov/about.

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