Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 2/20/17: Presidents who have served on the Supreme Court

In honor of the President’s Day holiday: William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States (1909-1913), remains the only president to also serve on the Supreme Court. He lectured in legal ethics at BU Law from 1918-1921, and then served as the … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 1/17/17: Presidential Oath of Office

The Presidential Oath of Office is specified in Article II, Section One, Clause 8: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 9/19/16: Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

“Oyez”–a term used to open sessions of the Supreme Court, among other tribunals– is an ancient holdover from the use of Anglo-Norman in law. Meaning “to hear”, over time it was generally replaced by the expression “hear ye”. It is one of … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 09/06/2016: The Number of Laws in the U.S.

Want to guess the number of federal laws in the U.S.? Good luck– even the Library of Congress doesn’t know. While this is one of the most popular questions asked of the Library’s reference librarians, they point out that simply tallying … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 4/18/16: Taxes!

The Sixteenth Amendment, passed in 1913, is probably one of the least well-known and yet most unpopular amendments, as it grants Congress the ability to levy a federal income tax. While the first federal income tax was levied during the Civil War as … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 4/11/16: Be Kind to Lawyers Day!

Distressingly, there is no official “Lawyer’s Day” in the U.S.–despite the fact that nearly half of the members of Congress are lawyers. In fact, a member of Congress in 2015 was 66x more likely to be a lawyer than the average … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 4/4/16: The Convention on the Rights of the Child

Of the 197 members of the United Nations, only the U.S. has failed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1989, the CRC is now the most widely ratified … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 3/28/16: The 28th Amendment

The proposed amendment currently closest to ratification is the “Lawyers’ Rights Amendment” (LRA), which if ratified would become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The LRA would make lawyers a protected class, and treat “comments, jokes and statements that … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 3/21/16: Reading the Riot Act

‘To read the riot act’– meaning to warn someone that their current actions will not be tolerated — has its origins in an actual legislative enactment. Formally entitled An Act for preventing Tumults and riotous Assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the Rioters … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 3/14/16: Insanity!

The words “insane” and “insanity” are legal, rather than medical, terms. Contemporary legal definitions of insanity are derived from the M’Naghten test, formulated by the House of Lords in 1843, which set out the test as whether (a) the defendant knew … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 2/29/16: Leap Year!

While technically there is no legal issue with respect to having a leap year birthday, people born on February 29th (often called “leapers”) may face some problems, particularly with regard to medical or government records. Some computer systems do not accept February 29th as a valid date, or … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 2/22/16: The Right to Privacy

While the Constitution contains no explicit reference to privacy, the Supreme Court has held it is found within the “penumbra” of the Bill of Rights as an implied right. Specifically, the Court had pointed to the 1st  Amendment (privacy of beliefs), 3rd … Continue reading