Category Archives: Government Information

Argument recordings posted in same-sex marriage case

The Supreme Court has posted the audio recordings of the two-part oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges. The transcripts will be posted at the same links.

Part I (Does the 14th Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?)

Part II (Does the 14th Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?)

State of the Union Address Archive


Last night, President Barack Obama delivered the sixth State of the Union address of his presidency. Did you know you can access all of the other State of the Union addresses at the American Presidency Project?  While many have been delivered as speeches, some were just submitted to Congress as a written statement. Both James Garfield and William Henry Harrison didn’t even deliver a State of the Union Address.

The American Presidency Project also includes Inaugural Addresses, Executive Orders, College Commencement Addresses and much more. The library also has a research guide on Presidential Documents and directs you to the official publications of these presidential statements.

Feel free to ask a reference librarian if you need any assistance while researching presidential documents.

The Evolving Congress


Congressional scholars, take note! The Congressional Research Service released an extensive history of the legislative branch yesterday. Known as  The Evolving Congress, it includes numerous articles written by CRS staff on the makeup of Congress and its evolution, the members of Congress, the Institutional Congress and Policymaking Case Studies.

Written as a tribute to its centennial year, this CRS work looks at the unchanging nature of Congressional elections and compares modern Congresses. If you’d like more information about CRS and access to more of its reports, see our Policy Research Guide.

SNL makes a funny about the legislative process

On Saturday night, the three people who still watch Saturday Night Live were treated to a delightful parody of the classic Schoolhouse Rock! “I’m just a Bill” cartoon. By Sunday afternoon, the rest of us had heard about it and had a chance to laugh along as well. In addition to sending up the 70s-era educational cartoon, the skit also skewered the President’s executive order on immigration. But what if you want to know more about the very real and serious processes that led to 3 minutes of chuckles? We’ve got you covered here at the law library.

For starters, we have a research guide on legislative history and a helpful chart of the various resources that comprise legislative histories and where they can be found. We also have a research guide on Presidential Documents with a section on executive orders. For databases in which to do legislative research, you cannot beat ProQuest Congressional, which you can access from the library website, under our list of Frequently Used Databases.

As to whether SNL got it right with their skit, that remains up for debate. However, SNL has us talking about the legislative process and that’s nothing to shake a stick at.

Get Ready for the First Monday in October

We all know that the U.S. Supreme Court begins a new term on the first Monday in October and this year is no exception. If you’re looking to monitor the Court throughout it’s term, don’t forget to consult the library’s Supreme Court Research Guide which highlights Current Awareness sites and links to everything about the court, from finding briefs and oral arguments to Supreme Court rules and decisions. US Supreme Court

50th Anniversary of the Warren Commission

On September 24th, 1964, the Warren Commission presented their findings on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to President Johnson. This 26 volume set, including the report and Congressional hearings was first published by the Government Printing Office. Today it has been digitized and is now available to all researchers to access via

john-f-kennedy-393262_1280Whether you’re interested in reading the report or the Congressional testimony of Lee Harvey Oswald’s widow, Marina Oswald or those who participated in the arrest and questioning of Jack Ruby, all are available.

Legislative Explorer: Visualizing Lawmaking

The University of Washington’s Center for American Politics and Public Policy is applying data visualization methods to the legislative process.  Legislative Explorer or LegEx traces the progress of bills and resolutions as they move through Congress, using visual representations for each piece of legislation and each step in the legislative process.

The image below is an overview of this visualization method.  Senators are represented on the left side, sorted by party (red = Republican) and by ideology (bottom = conservative).  House Representatives are similarly represented on the right side.

legex home

Here is a sample overview of the 110th Congress, which shows activity for 13,631 pieces of legislation:

legex 110th

Users can manipulate the data by using any of the following filters:  senators, representatives, parties, topics, committees, legislation type, steps in the process, states, and other criteria such as the gender of the sponsor or committee affiliation.  Coverage goes back to the 93rd Congress (1973-1974), and legislation is linked out to

Please contact a reference librarian if you need assistance with LegEx or legislative research.

Clerking this summer?? Judicial Writing Manual updated

It only took them 22 years, but the Federal Judicial Center updated their Judicial Writing Manual recently. It’s a simple guide for new judges and law clerks on how to write opinions, including the statement of facts and discussion of legal principles. The guide includes a sample memorandum opinion, summary order, dispositions and dissenting and concurring opinions. It’s an interesting read for those interested in how opinions come to be.

DC Circuit argument hearings at Georgetown

On Tuesday, November 12, the DC Circuit will have a special argument session at Georgetown Law in the Hart Auditorium at 9:30 am.

The 2 cases being heard are

  • United States v. Fraser Verrusio, an appeal of a conviction of a congressional staffer for accepting a gift; and
  • Sea World of Florida, LLC v. Thomas Perez, an appeal of an OSHA citation arising out of the death of an Orca whale trainer.

The briefs are available on TWEN in the course “DC Circuit’s Oral Argument, November 12, 2013.”

The panel hearing the cases is made up of Chief Judge Merrick Garland, Judge Judith Rogers, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Almanac of the Federal Judiciary

For more information about the judges, including their biographies, most important decisions, what it is like to argue in front of them, their judicial philosophies, lawyers’ perspectives, etc., please consult The Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, which the Library has in print in the Williams Library Reading Room, or you can consult the Almanac on Westlaw.

September 17 is App-solutely Constitution Day

Coinciding with today’s Constitution Day and Citizenship Day (36 USC § 106), there’s a new government-developed app where you can find hundreds of pages of annotations and analysis of our United States Constitution.  This is available now in the iTunes store for the iPhone and iPad platforms, and it’s free.  Developed by the Library of Congress, this app includes more than 2800 pages of materials popularly known as the Constitution Annotated.  The Constitution Annotated provides a clause-by-clause explanation of the United States Constitution, with references to nearly 8,000 Supreme Court cases. Constitutional law experts from the Congressional Research Service author the treatise and the Government Printing Office publishes the editions and supplements.  2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the print publication, which is now available online and in an app.

You can read a great review of the app at Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites blog.  As he points out, the app will take just over 100 MB of space on your Apple device.  Individual sections from the Constitution Annotated can be downloaded on any device of your choosing, and they appear as authenticated PDF files from the Government Printing Office.

As long ago as 2002, it was novel to have a mobile version of the United States Constitution, such as for the Palm OS.  Today you get much deeper depth of analysis provided for free from our government.

This app and several others are featured in our page of Mobile Apps on the Georgetown Law Library website.