Sunday, February 28, 2016

Create Citation Networks with Supreme Court Cases

Court Listener logo

CourtListener released an application developed by the University of Baltimore School of Law and the Free Law Project that allows users to visualize the historical development of the law for free. The application is "Supreme Court Citation Networks." 

Each opinion released by the Supreme Court is underpinned by references to other cases, precedent. Precedent develops into legal principles, and lawyers and legal scholars study precedent to better understand legal principles. CourtListener lets you take two cases and map the citations they have in common. It also allows the user to visualize whether the cases cited were "liberal" or "conservative" decisions.

Account registration is required to use the free app. Once in the app, creating Supreme Court Citation Networks is simple. Enter two cases and the app does all the work for you. Here is an example I did mapping interracial marriage to gay marriage, the first shows the degrees of separation and the second shows political ideology (click the images to enlarge them):

Interested in learning how lawyers and scholars can use visualization to tell a story? Watch this video on Mapping Supreme Court Doctrine: Civil Pleading:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Happy Civil Liberties Day!

The legislature declares that an annual day of recognition be observed in remembrance of Japanese Americans interned during World War II as a reminder that, regardless of the provocation, individual rights and freedoms must never be denied. RCW 1.16.090
February 19 is the "Day of Remembrance." On this day in 1942, Executive Order 9066 was signed. EO 9066 required the internment of all Americans of Japanese ancestry.

Washington State officially became the first and only state to recognize this day, in 2003 (see RCW 1.16.090 Legislative declaration for civil liberties day of remembrance). Some light legislative history research reveals that the bill (HB 1460) was passed unanimously.

The Washington State legislature made it official in 2003, but the history of the Day of Remembrance in Washington State dates back to 1978.

In fact, the nation's first Day of Remembrance was in Washington State. It was organized by the Evacuation Redress Committee and co-sponsored with many local organizations.

Here is a photo of Seattle Mayor Charles Royer signing a 1978 proclamation for the Day of Remembrance:

Mayor Charles Royer of Seattle, Washington, signs the proclamation for the Day of Remembrance, Nov. 1978, Seattle, Washington.
This photo, courtesy of the Kinoshita Family Collection, is from the Densho Encyclopedia, access it for more photos and Day of Remembrance history

Thursday, February 18, 2016

New East Asian Law Quick Reference Guide

The new East Asian Law Quick Reference guide is now available on the Gallagher Law Library website, replacing the old “East Asian Law Databases” page. The page highlights the most important resources for the legal systems of East Asia, with sub-sections for East Asia in General, China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and Taiwan. Convenient links to resources include, a Chinese legal database with full-text court decisions in English and Chinese, Westlaw Japan, with comprehensive access to full-text Japanese court decisions, plus many other important resources.

Find the new guide here:

New page highlights East Asian legal resources

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Supreme Court Appointment Process

Shortly after Justice Antonin Scalia's death, speculation began about his replacement. See the Congressional Research Service's Legal Sidebar What Does Scalia's Death Mean for Congress and the Nation?

While politicians and Court watchers are sharing their opinions freely, you can read up on the process itself. A Congressional Research Service report called Supreme Court Appointment Process: Roles of the President, Judiciary Committee, and Senate (Feb. 19, 2010).

For a deeper dive into the subject, see also these additional CRS reports, available on HeinOnline [UW Restricted]:

The Federation of American Scientists' free website also provides copies of these and other CRS reports on nominations to the Supreme Court.

And for even more references to CRS reports, books, nomination hearings, and related information, see the Gallagher guide on Supreme Court Nominations: The Nomination & Confirmation Process.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Govinfo Beta Website

The U.S. Government Publishing Office released the beta website of govinfo on February 3, which is available here: Govinfo will eventually replace the Federal Digital System (FDsys), which provides free online access to official federal government publications from all three branches of government.

Govinfo contains all of the content available on FDsys, such as the United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, and the Federal Register, but has a more modern look to it and was designed to improve usability.

Homepage of

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Business of Gifts

In honor of Valentine's Day, The Economics Daily (a blog and email alert service from the Bureau of Labor Statistics) highlights gift-related retail businesses. It might not surprise anyone who's shopped online or seen trucks delivering Amazon boxes to their neighbors, but the number of brick-and-mortar retail businesses selling gifts, jewelry, and flowers has fallen while online shopping has shot up. If you want to give your sweetheart wine there are even more physical stores than fifteen years ago.

Gift-related retail establishments, 2001-2014

Another chart shows employment in the different types of gift-related retailers. The employment in mail-order houses has gone down some, but it's still significant: it was only a few years ago that employment in online retailing passed it.

Chart: Employment in gift-related retailers, 2001-14
If you like to see stats like this, I recommend the TED email alerts. You can sign up for these—and a slew of other alerts—here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Library Closed for Presidents' Day

Gallagher Law Library will be closed to the public this upcoming Monday, February 15, for the Presidents' Day Holiday. The Reference Office will also be closed.

The Library will reopen per our usual schedule on Tuesday at 8:00 am.

More information about our hours can be found here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Low-income Washingtonians Need Legal Help

This fall the state Office of Civil Legal Aid published a new report (commissioned by the Supreme Court and prepared by a team at WSU) describing the frequency and type of legal needs of low-income state residents: 2015 Washington State Civil Legal Needs Study Update (Oct. 2015).

The picture is not rosy.
More than 70% of the state's low-income households experience at least one civil legal problem each year on matters affecting the most fundamental aspects of their daily lives, including accessible and affordable health care; the ability to get and keep a job; the right to financial services and protection from consumer exploitation; and the security of safe and stable housing. (p. 3)
And it's worse than it was: "The average number of problems per household increased from 3.3 in 2003 to 9.3 in the latest, 2014 survey." Id.

Next Wednesday the Washington Supreme Court will hear presentations about the report. The event is open to the public. It will probably be available on TVW.