Washington DC Information Update for June 2023

I was back in Washington DC last month and found that the US Supreme Court Building has reopened to the public. I revisited their website and found that more historical content is available.

I found this current text: “The U. S. Reports volumes available for free download on this website consist of volumes 502 et seq., which covers the 1991 Term and subsequent Terms. Starting with the Court’s 2022 Term, PDFs of the U. S. Reports (in both preliminary print and bound volume format) will be posted to this website as they become available. PDFs of volumes not yet officially published and available for purchase from GPO will be posted bearing a “page proof” watermark.

For earlier volumes of the U.S. Reports, the Library of Congress maintains an online digital collection of the U.S. Reports covering the years 1754-2012. The Library of Congress provides information on additional free online resources for case law, including decisions of the Supreme Court, in this guide: How To Find Free Case Law Online. Explanatory material on the dates of early Supreme Court decisions and arguments from 1791-1882 is available here.”

The Journal of the Supreme Court of the United States contains the official minutes of the Court. “It is published chronologically for each day the Court issues orders or opinions or holds oral argument” and is online from 1889 to October term 2022.

The Supreme Court Historical Society’s gift shop is open and their annual Christmas tree ornament features the rosettes on the courtroom ceiling. This ornament can be ordered online.

I did not get to visit the Law Library of Congress where my colleagues continue to make legal information more accessible. Their most recent June 5th top tips post on their In Custodia Legis blog contained more insights on searching the Congressional Record on Congress.gov. “the Bound Congressional Record on Congress.gov now provides coverage dating back to December of 1873. In this release, we have added labels to help the user distinguish between historical documents and historical bill texts.

Search Tip

Since the Bound Congressional Record now provides coverage dating back to December of 1873, that means you can now research debates concerning historic legislation, such as the 1875 Civil Rights Act.”

On May 24th they posted another blog post stating that over 4,000 of their legal reports are now available online. “Since we last celebrated our milestone of over 3,000 online reports just last summer, the Law Library has continued to publish additional legacy born-digital and digitized reports on a near-weekly basis. Now, as of last month, we are happy to announce that our collection of legacy and contemporary reports has grown to over 4,000. This collection includes a mixture of both legacy and contemporary reports on foreign, comparative, and international law topics. For decades, the Law Library of Congress has prepared these legal reports in response to requests from Congress, the executive and judicial branches of the federal government, and others. In 2020, we announced a multi-year effort to digitize and publish many of our previously unreleased historical reports to make them fully accessible to researchers and other members of the public. Last month, we announced that our reports are now also available in a curated collection on HeinOnline in addition to being freely available on law.gov.”

On May 1st there was an interesting post about a new acquisition of an 1872 House Report of the Committee on Indian affairs. “In 1862, in the middle of the Civil War, Indigenous people living in the Midwest who volunteered for service were organized into regiments in the Union Army and were designated as the First, Second, and Third Regiments of the Indian Home Guard (Report, p. 2). Members of the MvskokeSeminoleDelawareKickapooQuapawSenecaShawneeOsage, and Cherokee tribes made up the three regiments. They mainly fought in battles in Indian Territory and Kansas.

After the war ended, on June 18, 1866, Congress passed A Resolution to Provide for the Bounties of Certain Indian Regiments (17 Stat. 360). The resolution authorized the Secretary of War to pay “to the enlisted men of the first, second and third Indian regiments the bounty of one hundred dollars”, the same as other volunteers in the U.S. Army.” Unfortunately the attorney who represented some of those tribes kept the money for himself. “The report is interesting for its depiction of the role of Indigenous people in the Civil War, their treatment, and their entitlement to benefits afterward. It is also representative of early white-collar fraud investigations by the government.”

Back on April 24th there was a post about more historical content added to Congress.gov, some of which was alluded to in their May 24th post. “With this release, we are adding enhancements to our historical collection of bills, joint resolutions, and historical documents that was migrated to Congress.gov from the Library of Congress Century of Lawmaking site.

Bills and joint resolutions from this collection are now labeled as Historical Bill Text on Congress.gov. There are some important differences to note in the display of historical bills on Congress.gov.

  • Historical bill and document texts predate authenticated digital publishing. Only the bill texts from 1799 (6th Congress) to 1809 (10th Congress) are searchable. For the rest of the collection, only the title and a minimal amount of metadata are searchable.
  • You can also choose to browse this collection.
  • Please note that bills from 1799 (6th Congress) to 1817 (14th Congress) were not numbered and appear as such on Congress.gov. That means that there is not an authoritative bill number associated with these bills and the number that appears in the URL is not a bill number.
  • The tabs that are displayed for this collection include Text, Actions, Similar Bills, and, if the data is available, Committees. Similar Bills is a machine-generated list that is based on matching words in bill titles. Learn more about the Similar Bills Tool at About Related Bills.


Enhancement – Historical Bill Text

  • The Historical Bill Text label denotes bill and document text that predates authenticated digital publishing.
  • Use the Historical checkbox on the legislation search form to search bill texts from the 6th through 10th Congresses (1799-1809) or bill titles and metadata from the 11th Congress and 13th through 42nd Congresses (1809-1811, 1813-1873).
  • Bills from the 6th Congress (1799) to 1817 (14th Congress) were not numbered but use a unique identifying number in the URL.
  • Historical bill text items also include tabs for Actions, Similar Bills, and Committees, as available. Similar Bills is a machine-generated list based on matching words in bill titles. Learn more about the Similar Bills Tool at About Related Bills.

Congress.gov Tip

Congress.gov makes it easy to keep up with committee activity via the House and Senate Committee Schedule. You can also sign up to receive a weekly email alert each Monday that will provide the projected committee schedule for the coming week. Just click “Get Weekly Alerts” at the top of the page.”

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