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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Monday, September 18: Constitution Day Donuts!

Come out and celebrate Constitution Day in the Law Library!  

Come and grab donuts and coffee, as well as a quiz about the US Constitution, for prizes.  Don't be ashamed, take a selfie with James Madison!

When: Monday, September 18th, 11 a.m - 1 p.m.
Where: Library Lobby
What: Donuts, coffee, and prizes!

We'll have on display some rare books from the collection, and a sign up for the rare books group also.



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Acquisitions: Early US Supreme Court Cases

American law is one of the main areas of
collection in the Law Library's Riesenfeld Center, including law of the early republic, and early and separate printings of Supreme Court cases and case-related documents.

Recently we acquired several new and interesting titles related to early Supreme Court cases and issues, two of which represent key decisions of the Marshall Court. The titles and cases are below, along with several interesting features.   

The Answer and Pleas of Samuel Chase...to the Articles of Impeachment (1805). The impeachment of Justice Samuel Chase was a highly political affair, as Chase had become a target of Jefferson and the anti-federalists, who sought to remove him from the bench for his conduct as a trial judge. He was acquitted by the Senate and remains the only Supreme Court justice ever impeached. Our copy includes the rare replication and exhibits in the case.


National Intelligencer newspaper (from Saturday, March 6, 1824), featuring on the front page the first printing of John Marshall's majority opinion in the case of Gibbons v. Ogdendecided four days earlier. In this foundational Supreme Court case on the commerce clause, Thomas Gibbons challenged Aaron Ogden's monopoly right, granted by New York, to operate steamboats on its waters. Former business partners, Gibbons had been sued by Ogden for operating another steamboat line, between Elizabeth, New Jersey, and New York. Gibbons argued that interstate commerce, including navigation for the purpose of commerce, was regulated by Congress and that his right was vindicated by a 1793 federal law. In the Supreme Court, Gibbons prevailed, with important consequences for federal authority to regulate states

Opinion of the Supreme Court...in the Case of Samuel P. Worchester (1832).  Samuel Worchester and others were indicted under Georgia law for residing in "the Cherokee nation without a license." Chief Justice Marshall wrote the majority opinion, invalidating the Georgia statute that regulated citizens' relations with the Cherokee. Only the federal government and Congress had the power to enter into relations with sovereign nations, Marshall declared, of which the Cherokee was one.


Opinions of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Case of the Proprietors of Charles River Bridge (1837).  In 1785 and in 1828 Massachusetts granted charters to two bridge companies to build over the Charles River in Boston. The earlier-chartered company sued, claiming the state had broken its contract. The Marshall Court heard the case, but did not render a decision. When reargued several years later, the Taney Court sided with the second company, agreeing that the original charter should be construed narrowly and did not imply exclusive rights.  

 - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections