Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Real ID Act now a Reality

Last May, the Real ID Act became the law of the land (P.L. 109-13). The bill, H.R. 418, was appended to an $82 billion military spending bill. The idea is that all Americans will be carrying driver’s licenses and state issued ID cards that will conform to national standards. These federally approved (by the Department of Homeland Security) IDs will be the only ones valid for air travel, opening bank accounts, and using government services. All current driver’s license and ID holders will be required to re-verify their identity with the state, meaning they must bring their documentation (birth certificate, photo ID, SS card, etc.) to a DMV in order to receive a new DL/ID card. The new law requires that the 245 million DL/IDs currently out there be renewed and re-issued according to the new standards within five years. Now, the National Governors Association is protesting that the states will not be able to afford the $11 billion price tag to comply with the federal law. Read the report of the National Governors association here.

Read an article about the effect of the Real ID Act on the average citizen here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Legal Writing Tips

Wayne Schiess writes a blog called It is full of information that is useful not only to 1Ls who are struggling with writing that first memo, but to all legal writers. One recent post talked about the "8 best things you can do to improve your legal-writing style." Read it here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Constitution Day is September 18

Constitution Day is being held on Monday, September 18 this year. The law school is honoring the signing of the U.S. Constitution with the following events during the week:
Tuesday, September 19 there will be a panel discussion on The Meaning of Judicial Independence and Its Role in Judicial Elections. Panel members will be former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, Evonne Spangler of Huot and Spangler, and Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipman. Professor Mary Jane Morrison will moderate. Catch it from 11:30 - 12:45 in the Annette K. Levine Moot Court Room.
Thursday, September 21, Professor Howard Vogel will present a lecture titled The Culture Wars, the Independence of the Judiciary & the Future of the Constitution in the 21st Century: Why Do Americans Fight Over the Constitution & the Supreme Court? This event will be held from 12:00- 1:00 in Room 101.

GPO Access has a list of core documents of the U. S. democracy. The law library just acquired a set of 3 DVDs that discuss some of these core documents. Our Constitution: A Conversation, produced in 2005, features Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Stephen Breyer discussing why the nation needs a Constitution, federalism, separation of powers, and the notion of individual rights. Key Constitutional Concepts examines the origins of individual rights and the separation of powers, and Mandate: The President and Public Opinion looks at the relationship between the presidency and public opinion. These DVDs are available at the Circulation Desk.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Legal Writing

Roy Jacobsen writes a blog called Writing Clear & Simple, which is usually interesting and filled with tips on writing clearly and simply. Back in August, he posted an interview with Joe Kimble, a law professor who advocates the use of plain language in legal writing. Read the interview here.

9/11 Remembered

September 11, 2001 was one of those days where anyone can tell you where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that the twin towers of the World Trade Center had been hit by airliners. I remember being stunned at the news, then horrified by the thought that my son had been on his way to Penn Station in New York City that morning, and would have had to pass the WTC on the way. Luckily, he was a survivor of that awful day; many were not. Our nation continues to struggle with the events that were set in motion that morning. Today at noon, the Student Bar Association has planned a moment of reflective silence in the main walkway of the law school.

I have gathered here some links relating to 9/11:

The 9/11 Commission Report
9-11 News and Legal Resources, Information and Related Services
Wikipedia entry: September 11, 2001 attacks,_2001_attacks

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Congress Back in Session: FISA "Update" Hearing

The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security is holding hearings to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Bills being considered include H.R. 4976, H.R. 5223, H.R. 5371, H.R. 5825, S. 2453, and S. 2455.

FISA requires the government to obtain a warrant before engaging in domestic surveillance. The Bush administration has come under attack for bypassing the system set up by FISA and allowing the National Security Agency to engage in wiretapping and other surveillance of American citizens in this country. A federal court recently ruled that the NSA domestic surveillance program is unconstitutional.

beSpacific has a comprehensive list of links to articles about the domestic surveillance program.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

3L Writes About Socratic Method

An interesting article from on the Socratic method. The article, written by a 3L student at Catholic University's Columbus School of Law, gives a student's perspective on this teaching method.

Hamline Professor Doug McFarland's perspective on the Socratic method can be found on a CALI podcast. Go to, sign in, choose Podcasts/Blogs from the menu, and then click on Cali Podcasts on Legal Education Topics. If you haven't registered at yet, contact Barb Kallusky at or ask any of the librarians for the authorization code.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Federal Government Secrecy Report Card Issued

beSpacific has alerted us that the Secrecy Report Card 2006 is out. This report is published by, a coalition of consumer, good government groups, librarians, journalists, and others who are interested in containing government secrecy and promoting openness in government. You can read the report for 2006 here.