France and the Burkini-Ban Debate

France has always prided itself on its secularism, referred to as laïcité in French. This is one of the core concepts within its constitution and it has been used as a reason in recent years to ban religious clothing – notably the burqa. In 2010, France became the first European country to pose an outright ban on the burqa, which is the full-face veil worn by some Muslim women. The niqab and hijab, by contrast, only cover parts of the face or hair. These fell under a 2004 French law that prohibited religious wear such as headscarves in public schools. To find these laws, one of the best places to look is Legifrance. We also have French laws in our print collection; our research guide on French law may be useful for identifying which code to search. For assistance with the print, please feel free to seek out assistance at the international law reference desk.

One might wonder why the French would target one religion when they seemingly don’t care about the Catholics or Jews or other religious types who might walk among them in various forms of religious dress. After all, no one seems to be asking nuns to remove their habits in the classroom. Or the beach, for that matter.


The argument behind such laws has been that Muslim standards for feminine modesty are overly restrictive and impede on the rights of women, thus infringing on the French rights of liberty, equality, and fraternity.

Enter the burkini in the post-Nice-attack atmosphere. Suddenly, this item of clothing, which Muslim women can choose to wear if they want to go to the beach, was another example of the enslavement of women by Islam. Worse than that, in the words of presidential hopeful, Nicolas Sarkozy, it was a provocation. Nice outlawed the burkini because it “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks.” Several cities followed suit.

The world did not react with warmth and joy. When the following picture made the rounds, people were upset because this image doesn’t look like the image of a woman provoking others with her dress. It doesn’t look like the image of a woman terrorizing others. Instead it looks like the image of a woman being policed for no good reason and being asked to remove clothing against her own wishes, surrounded by armed men.


On Friday, August 26, the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, overturned the burkini-ban that had been instituted by 26 coastal towns. The decision can be read here. It can also be found, eventually, on Legifrance. The judges refute that the burkini is a symbol of terror or inequality, stating:

« l’arrêté litigieux a ainsi porté une atteinte grave et manifestement illégale aux libertés fondamentales que sont la liberté d’aller et venir, la liberté de conscience et la liberté personnelle. »

Basically, that the ban is manifestly illegal because it deprives people of fundamental liberties, such as the liberty to come and go, the liberty of conscience, and personal liberty.

Share or Save:

Happy National Aviation Day!

According to 36 U.S.C. 118, August 19 is designated as National Aviation Day. First recognized in 1939 by Franklin D. Roosevelt on the anniversary of Orville Wright’s birthday, it was codified in Title 36 with other days of patriotic and national observance. You can see resources about Aviation Law on the library’s Aviation Law Research Guide.


Feel free to ask a librarian if you have any questions about the resources.

Share or Save:

New Resource – Law.com

The library now offers Law.com to all members of the Georgetown Law community. Law.com features legal news and analysis from the American Lawyer and National Law Journal, including the infamous rankings of the legal industry, the AmLaw 100 and the NLJ250. ALM Intelligence provides industry analysis such as best law firms to work for, best places for lawyers to live and more.

Law.com is a valuable site for anyone investigating the legal industry and law firms in general. Check it out!

Share or Save:

Library catalog outage on Thursday, August 18th

This Thursday, August 18th, the Georgetown Law Library catalog (GULLiver) will undergo maintenance beginning at approximately 11:00 am and lasting up to 8 hours (until 7:00 pm). During this time you may be unable to:

  • search GULLiver,
  • access online research databases, or
  • log in to your library account.

The law library website, our research guides, OneSearch, live chat, interlibrary loan, and other web services will remain available. However, links to online databases, books, and articles may not work.

Online resources that do not rely on the catalog server—including Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and Westlaw—will be unaffected.

Thank you for your patience while we perform this necessary work. Below are some tips to help you work around this disruption. Please contact us via chat, phone, or e-mail if you have any questions or need help.

Finding Books, Articles, and Databases

  • OneSearch has a massive index that includes our entire catalog.
  • WorldCat has records on items held in libraries around the world, including at Georgetown Law.
  • The Georgetown University library website is a great alternative for accessing popular databases such as HeinOnline, Proquest Congressional, and more.

Accessing Electronic Resources While On-Campus

If you are (a) on-campus during this maintenance event; (b) connected to a Georgetown Law network; and (c) not afraid to do something a bit technical, then you may be able to reach online resources provided by the library by modifying the URL used to access them.

For example, suppose you click a link to JSTOR in one of our research guides.

If the catalog is down, then this link will result in an error. However, remove “0-“ and “.gull.georgetown.edu” and it will work again.

To repeat, this trick only works if you are on-campus and connected to the Georgetown Law network.

Share or Save:

Do you have children?

Did you know the library has a very basic collection of books for preschool age and primary grade children? In the 3rd floor lounge in Williams, we maintain a small collection for law students who might bring their children in with them for a quick visit to the library or who might want to pick up a book to take home to their children!

Take a look and treat a child to the gift of reading!

child_yoko                                                  child_rain


Share or Save:

Following the Olympics?

Check out the library’s Olympics and International Sports Law Research Guide for information on the legal structure of the Olympics games, as well as material on Anti-Doping, Safety Concerns and journals on sports law.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) also issued a recent report on The 2016 Olympic Games: Health, Security, Environmental, and Doping Issues. Prepared for members of Congress, it is also fact-filled with relevant material on Zika, Anti-Doping and safety concerns.


Share or Save:

Historical Abstracts 1878-present is online

Ever want to compare population, church membership, higher education enrollments or crime rates across time?  The Statistical Abstracts of the U.S. is now online and searchable. Data begins with the 1878 edition of the publication and includes data through the 2016 issue. You can select a single year or search across multiple issues to find statistical data on the United States.

For additional Statistical information, consult our Statistics and Empirical Legal Studies Research Guide or consult a librarian.


Share or Save:

Valuable Data on Supreme Court Opinions

The Washington University in St. Louis has compiled The Supreme Court Database to provide researchers the ability to analyze court decisions by outcome, justice, case components and much more. You can search the Warren Court, the Roberts Court and more in the Modern Search, or choose the Legacy Search to look at decisions from the Taney Court, the Marshall Court or others. You can limit your results to decisions about Civil Rights, Judicial Power, Privacy and Federal Taxation, just to name a few topics.

You can limit your results by lower courts, state courts, majority votes, minority votes and much more.  This fact-filled resource can support judicial and legal researchers, thanks to the generous support of the National Science Foundation.


Share or Save:

China’s Claim to South China Seas Rejected!

Today, the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected China’s expansive claim to a large swath of the South China Sea.  The full text of the award can be found on the PCA website, although their servers have been having some difficulties keeping up with demand.  China has predictably rejected the finding with a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.


Did you know that “island” is defined by international law?  See Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law database is a good starting point when you are investigating a new topic!  Go ahead and take a look

Share or Save: