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New Supreme Court Bulletin Student Leadership

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May 062016

Jenna & Nicole

We recently selected new leadership for our Supreme Court Bulletin Previews.  Jenna Howarth is the new Editor in Chief, and the new Executive Editor is Nicole Greenstein.   

Jenna graduated magna cum laude from Boston College in 2014 with a degree in English and a minor in Economics.  While an undergraduate, she interned at a Boston courthouse, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts’ Justice Initiative, and a Boston law firm.  After her first year at Cornell Law School, she spent the summer working in the Child Protection Unit of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.  Add to that the time she spent at a publishing company, and it’s easy to see the intellect, experience, and passion she brings to the Supreme Court Bulletin.  

Jenna is excited to lead the Bulletin during the Court’s 2016-17 term.  She says, “I have really enjoyed the work I have done for the Bulletin this past year, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to contribute even more in this new role going forward. We have already begun implementing some of our new ideas for the Bulletin and have selected a very strong Editorial Board and associate class to create more great previews next year.”

Nicole is a self-professed “grammar geek” who graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2014 with degrees in English and Political Science.  With minors in both Journalism and Consumer Psychology, she spent two summers working at TIME Magazine.  During those stints, she saw her reporting featured as the #1 “Most Popular” story on TIME Politics and #3 on  Reporting on politically charged issues such as the 2012 elections, US foreign relations, and revelations about the National Security Agency, Nicole decided that law school was the next step for her.  

Nicole balances her interest in politics with the Bulletin’s decidedly apolitical editorial policies.  She says, “I have always admired LII’s mission to inform the public about important legal issues in an accessible manner. It is an honor to be a part of such a wonderful organization, and I look forward to another great year for the Bulletin.”

Traditionally, the EIC is responsible for setting and enforcing standards and deadlines, as well as training and overseeing the work of the Managing Editors who work directly with the Bulletin’s Associates to create each Preview.  The EE manages the Bulletin’s relationship with the Federal Lawyer magazine and works with LII volunteer Frank Wagner to ensure the pieces we send to the Federal Bar Association for their publication have an additional layer of polish.

LII Donor Profile: S. Blair Kauffman, Law Librarian and Professor at Yale Law School

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May 062016

kauffman_blairBlair Kauffman is a law librarian’s law librarian. He first became director of an academic law library in 1981.  Since 1994, he has headed the law library at Yale, consistently ranked by US News and World Report as the top law school in the United States.  He is a longtime friend and contributor to the LII.  Tom Bruce caught up with him recently during a professional visit to Cornell, and asked him a few questions.

TB:  I understand that your first act as a law librarian was shelving the stone tablets Moses brought down off the mountain…

BK:  The problem was that they were really heavy.  It actually took more than just me to do it — I really can’t claim all the credit.  And, you know, things have gotten steadily better.

TB:  Seriously, what are the biggest changes you’ve seen during your time in law librarianship? It’s easy to point at digitization, but if you look a little deeper, what do you see?

BK:  I think that the quality of people who have entered librarianship has steadily improved.  We attract better and better students and as a result we have had more and more competent library professionals.  That’s a big part of it.

And it’s not just the digitization of legal information, it’s also the automation of library processes. All the back-room functions that used to be paper-based are heavily automated.  There’s a lot less work at the low end and much more at the high end.  That’s made a lot more time for specialty work.

TB:  We typically talk about digitization of content, particularly for preservation of print materials, but of course there’s also digitization of metadata, Linked Data techniques, and so on.  Is that included in the specialty work?

BK:  Our leadership in technical services here has transformed dramatically.  We have much more integration of technical and public services than ever before.  We have tech services people who are brilliant, who really understand the technology from a very high level. They’re thinking very much about ideas that are outside traditional law library approaches to cataloging and organizing materials. We’ve added a lot of other talents to the mix, particularly Web services for information access and digitization.  And they’re all involved in teaching, too. These guys are all deeply integrated with all our front-line stuff.  It’s been really healthy for the institution.

TB:  How do you see what the LII and other open-access providers complementing what you do in academic law libraries?

BK:  I think they fit together brilliantly.  We don’t duplicate, we intersect at certain points — providing low-cost access to critical legal information that you can trust, from a trusted source. It’s essential for students who are going into budget-conscious practice settings where they won’t be able to afford the commercial services. The LII is an ever-expanding source of up-to-date, easy-to-find legal information they can get access to. It’s important in a library setting to know about that, especially if you’re serving people who don’t have access to the for-pay services.  In the international setting it’s especially important — not just the LII, but all the other LIIs that you’ve helped spawn internationally, in Australia, Canada… it seems like it’s an ever-expanding organism.  I’ve worked in Indonesia, Afghanistan, and other out of the way places, and it’s important to point them to your resources, because they can’t afford to get access to American law in any other way.

TB:  You mentioned reliability.  Where do you think that perception comes from?

BK:  I’ve known you guys from Day One, and you really care about reliability.  I’m sure you guys are more conscious of the warts because you really do care about it. If I see “Legal Information Institute”, I think, well, the source has been vetted, and these guys aren’t going to put it up unless it’s the real deal.

TB:  Why did you send us a donation?

BK:  I’ve been an admirer of the LII from the time you started it up. I just thought, “This is such an altruistic enterprise”.  It’s been an incredible, wonderful thing for so many people.  If you care about access to legal information, and I think that as a law librarian, well, obviously, you do, then the LII is more than worthy of support.

TB:  You got a lot of attention, some of it pretty snarky, for introducing “therapy dogs” as an innovative library service for students stressed out by exams. How many things can I check out of the Yale Law Library that aren’t books?

BK:  If our user community wants it, and you can bar-code it, you can check it out. No giraffes.  But you can check out games, umbrellas, bicycles, snow shovels, and and air mattresses.  I suppose that because it’s so different it’s seen as not quite serious, but we meant it to respond to mental health concerns that the legal profession has.  The law is a very stressful profession and students need to learn healthful ways to deal with that.  And because we have a non-hierarchical relationship with the students, we are uniquely positioned to provide that kind of service.

[You can read more about Blair here, and about Monty, the therapy dog, here.]

Today at SCOTUS -- 1/14/14

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Jan 142014

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) the powers of bankruptcy courts; (2) the taxation of unemployment benefits; and (3) federal property statutes:

(1)  Executive Benefits Insurance Agency v. Arkin [see our preview at];

  • Does Article III of the Constitution permit bankruptcy courts to enter final judgments in “core” proceedings as defined in 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)? If not, can bankruptcy courts exercise jurisdiction over litigants through their “implied consent”?

(2)  US v. Quality Stores, Inc.s [see our preview at]

  • Are supplemental unemployment benefits paid to laid-off employees considered “wages” under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), and therefore taxable as income?

(3)  Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. US [see our preview at]

  • Does the United States have a reversionary interest in a railroad right-of-way created by the General Railroad Right of Way Act of 1875 after the federal government granted the lands underlying the right-of-way to a private party?

Today at SCOTUS -- 1/13/2014

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Jan 132014

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments in cases about (1) recess appointments and (2) misbehaving debtors in bankruptcy:

(1)  NLRB v Noel Canning [see our preview at]

  • Can the President exercise the recess-appointment power during a recess while the Senate is still in session? Can the President exercise this power when the Senate convenes every three days in pro forma sessions?
  • Can the President use the recess-appointment power to fill any vacancy that exists during a recess, or only to fill those vacancies that arose during the recess?

(2) Law v. Siegel [see our preview at]

  • If a debtor in bankruptcy commits misconduct during bankruptcy proceedings, can statutory exemptions previously granted to him be revoked as punishment for his misbehavior?

Today at SCOTUS - 12/11/2013

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Dec 112013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments in a cases about (1) self-incrimination in a capital punishment trial and (2) the statue of limitations for child custody petitions under the Hague Convention:

(1)  White v. Woodall [see our preview at]

  • Does a trial court’s rejection of a non-testifying defendant’s request for a no-adverse-influence instruction during the sentencing phase of a capital punishment trial violate that defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when the defendant has pled guilty to all of the alleged crimes and aggravating circumstances?

(2) Lozano v. Alvarez  [see our preview at]

  • Can a district court considering a petition under the Hague Convention for the return of an abducted child to the child’s home country toll the running of the one-year filing deadline when the abducting parent has concealed the whereabouts of the child from the other parent?

Today at SCOTUS - 12/10/2013

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Dec 102013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments in a cases about (1) EPA rulemaking and (2) the Child Status Protection Act :

(1)  EPA v. EME Homer City Generation [see our preview at]

  • Did the EPA permissibly interpret the phrase “contribute significantly” when it balanced achievable emission reduction levels against the cost of achieving such emission reductions?
  • Can states wait for the EPA to adopt a rule quantifying each state’s “good neighbor” obligations before they adopt a state implementation plan prohibiting emissions that “contribute significantly” to other states’ pollution problems?

(2)  Mayorkas v. Cuellar de Osoria [see our preview at]

  • Does the Child Status Protection Act grant relief to an alien who qualifies as a child derivative beneficiary at the time a visa petition is initially filed, but who reaches age 21 (“ages out”) when the visa becomes available to the principal beneficiary?


Today at SCOTUS - 12/9/2013

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Dec 092013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) airline immunity under the Transportation Safety Act when an employee files a false report; and  (2) if a court’s decision is “final” when contractual attorney fees remain unresolved:

(1)  Air Wisconsin Airlines v. Hoeper  [see our preview at]

  • Can a court deny an airline immunity under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act for a report made by its employees to the Transportation Security Administration about another employee, without first determining that the airline’s disclosure was materially false?

(2)   Ray Haluch Gravel Co. v. Central Pension Fund  [see our preview at]

  • Can a district court’s decision that does not resolve a request for contractual attorney’s fees be a “final decision” under 28 U.S.C. § 1291?

Today at SCOTUS - 12/4/2013

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Dec 042013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments in a case about the rights of citizens of public roads cutting through military installations:

(1)  US v. Apel  [see our preview at]

  • Can 18 U.S.C. § 1382, which prohibits a person from reentering a military installation after a commanding officer has ordered him not to reenter, be enforced on a portion of a military installation that is subject to a public roadway easement?

The other case scheduled for today, Township of Mount Holly v. Mount Holly Garden Citizens in Action, Inc., settled.  You can nevertheless read our preview at, and some thoughts on the settlement here. 

Today at SCOTUS - 12/3/2013

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Dec 032013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) preemption of state law tort claims under the Airline Deregulation Act and (2) standing to bring a false advertising claim under the Lanham Act:

(1)  Northwest, Inc. v. Ginsberg  [see our preview at]

  • Does the Airline Deregulation Act preempt a state claim for breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing concerning a frequent flyer program?

(2)   Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc. [see our preview at]

  • What is the appropriate framework to determine standing in a false advertising action under the Lanham Act?

Today at SCOTUS - 12/2/2013

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Dec 022013

Today, the Supreme Court hears arguments about (1) the role of federal courts in private arbitrations and (2) the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act:

(1)   BG Group, PLC v. Republic of Argentina  [see our preview at]

  • Does an arbitrator or a court decide whether a precondition to arbitration has been satisfied?
  • To what extent can federal courts review such decisions?

(2)   Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community [see our preview at]

  • Can a federal court exercise jurisdiction over a state suit alleging violations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act where the gaming activity is not located on Indian lands?
  • Does tribal sovereign immunity bar a state from suing a tribe in federal court for violations of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act?