Laws and Legislation

LBJ and the Great Society Speech

The University of Michigan Commencement of May 22, 1964, set a precedent that may come as a surprise to many Ann Arborites. It was the first time a sitting President spoke on campus. Despite the fact that he would be in town only a short time, the preparations on the campus and in the city to welcome President Lyndon B. Johnson were extensive. Public and private schools were scheduled to close on Commencement Day. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies planned a coordinated security effort to accommodate what was expected to be President Johnson's largest audience.

President Johnson used the opportunity to promote his Great Society initiative, aimed at addressing poverty and racial inequality in the United States. The Ann Arbor News ran the entire text of the speech and University President Harlan H. Hatcher praised a " serious and significant" speech. The election-year speech brought politicians in droves to the commencement and Ann Arbor News reporter Bud Vestal provided insightful commentary on the political interplay throughout the day, especially between LBJ and Governor Romney.

C-SPAN was in town recently filming for an upcoming program on Ann Arbor that includes interviews with local authors, community and cultural leaders. Local historian Grace Shackman, whose Then & Now columns in the Observer have chronicled much of Ann Arbor's past, was interviewed about LBJ's time in Ann Arbor. Coverage of C-SPAN's Ann Arbor visit will be aired on November 16 & 17 on C-SPAN's Book TV and American History TV.

Read all the Ann Arbor News articles on President Johnson's visit to Ann Arbor.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) from New Jersey, has died

Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D) of New Jersey, who was the last living World War II veteran serving in the U.S.Senate as well as its oldest member (he turned 89 in January), died early this morning at a New York Hospital.

Sen. Lautenberg was a first-generation American (his parents were Polish and Russian). He and two childhood friends founded the first automated payroll system in the U.S. (ADP -- Automated Data Processing) which became a worldwide company.

In 1982, Sen. Lautenberg won his first term in the U.S. Senate and retired at the end of 2000. Just two years later, he was drafted by NJ Democrats to save the 2002 Senate race from sinking due to the multi-scandal-ridden career of Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli. He won that election and the election of 2008 with wide margins.

Sen. Lautenberg was one of the most liberal members of the Senate and proud of it. He won successful legislative battles to ban smoking on airplanes and to prevent domestic abusers from owning guns. He tightened the drunk driving laws and was instrumental in getting the drinking age raised to 21. He was one of the most active Senators -- he cast his 9000th vote in in December of 2011.

As his health failed earlier this year, he announced that he would serve out this term and not seek re-election in 2014.

Sen. Lautenberg died of complications stemming from viral pneumonia.

On This Day in History--January 31st: Congress passed the 13th Amendment in 1865, for the abolition of slavery

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude, was finally passed through Congress on January 31, 1865. Throughout the 1860’s the number of proposals for legislation that abolished slavery began to grow, until finally the Senate Judiciary Committee combined three proposals made by Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri, Representative James Mitchell Ashley of Ohio, and Representative James F. Wilson of Iowa, and introduced the resulting amendment proposal to the Senate.

The Senate passed the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6, but the House of Representatives took much longer to make a decision. Its passage was due in large part to President Lincoln, who made it part of his campaign platform for the 1864 presidential election. It was finally passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and then sent to the state legislatures to be ratified. On December 6th, when Georgia became the 27th of the then 36 states to ratify it, it was finally adopted into the constitution.

The 13th Amendment was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments to be adopted after the end of the American Civil War. The 14th Amendment gave African-Americans citizenship, equal rights, and equal protection, and the 15th Amendment gave them the right to vote. Follow the links to AADL’s collection for more about the Civil War and the 13th Amendment!

RELATED POSTS:
Civil War - Comrades in Arms

Robert Bork, controversial legal scholar, Supreme Court nominee, and judge, has died

Robert Bork, an influential conservative legal presence in American history for many decades, has died.

Bork, a former Marine, segued from an attorney in private practice to a professor at Yale Law School. Some of his notable students were Bill and Hillary Clinton, Robert Reich, Anita Hill, and Gov. Jerry Brown.

Bork made first headlines on October, 20, 1973. Richard Nixon, embroiled in the Watergate scandal, demanded that Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox be fired, triggering the Saturday Night Massacre. Both U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than carry out this order. Bork then immediately became Acting Attorney General and complied with Nixon's order, which was found to be illegal in a lawsuit filed in November by Ralph Nader.

Fourteen years later, President Ronald Reagan nominated Bork (who by then was a Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.) for a seat on the Supreme Court. The pushback from Senate Democrats was fierce in light of Bork's support for the South's wish to impose poll taxes and for rolling back key aspects of civil rights. His nomination was rejected and Judge Anthony Kennedy won unanimous approval.

Bork then resigned from the Court of Appeals, accepting a position as senior fellow at the conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

He was back in the news for endorsing Governor Mitt Romney for President on August 2, 2011 for the second time (he had also endorsed Romney on December 15, 2007).

Mr. Bork, who was 85, died of heart complications.

Arlen Specter, longtime U.S. Senator, has died

Arlen Specter, a tough-as-nails Senator from Pennsylvania for almost 30 years, died yesterday at his home in Philadelphia.

Specter was a sandwich Republican (he began and ended his long political career as a Democrat) from 1965 to 2009 who was known for being a moderate in an increasingly hard right Party. He thrived on using his Yale law degree as a member and Chair of the Judiciary Committee where he infuriated the GOP by sinking the nomination of Judge Robert H. Bork and by enraging the Democrats with his unbridled interrogation of Anita Hill during the successful confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas.

In 2009, Specter returned to his Democratic roots in his run in the primary for his Senate seat which he lost to Joe Sestak who, in turn, lost the Senate race to Republican Pat Toomey.

Earlier this year, Sen. Specter published a book with Charles Robbins about the struggle within the GOP for its future direction. Life among the Cannibals: A Political Career, a Tea Party Uprising, and the End of Governing as We Know It. He describes his role in creating the Tea Party and his two deciding votes which helped pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 a.k.a. the stimulus, and the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare.

Senator Specter, who had battled several bouts of cancer and heart trouble, died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 82.

Michigan Legal Help Website Online Now!

A new legal self-help website, www.michiganlegalhelp.org offers information and many resources for Michigan residents who need to represent themselves in simple civil legal matters. The Michigan Legal Help website is part of a pilot project overseen by the Solutions on Self-Help Task Force. The website was created to make legal information easier to understand and to show people how to navigate the court system properly and efficiently. The website can also help users look for a lawyer or legal self-help center in their area if they need more assistance. Visit www.michiganlegalhelp.org to view the website and learn more about it's tools for civil legal self-help in Michigan.

Apple vs. Samsung

Steve Jobs wanted to destroy the Android mobile platform as he considered it stolen property. Recently Apple won a large suit against Samsung concerning infringement of utility patents that may have enormous ripple effects in the industry. Samsung may not be allowed to sell their latest smart phones in the US. With pending outcomes on filed injunctions awaiting decisions in September and beyond, even key elements of the Android operating system may be deemed to infringe on Apple’s patents.

It may result in companies such as LG Electronics, Lenovo and HTC to move away from Android altogether. The ramifications are unknown, companies may be forced to change operating systems or just have to pay royalties to Apple, further enriching the world’s most valuable company. Only time will tell.

The history of patent law is interesting and mercurial. Epic battles have been fought over patents and intellectual property. Some of the world’s largest and best known companies including Ford Motor, Singer, Kellogg, Nokia, Colt and Kodak have waged war over intermittent windshield wipers, sewing machines, shredded wheat, knockoffs and digital image technology.

The Ann Arbor District Library has many resources to explore this fascinating topic; here are just a few:
Flash of Genius is a film about Robert Kearns, the Wayne State University engineering professor who won large settlements from Ford and Chrysler over his invention and patent for an electric motor powered intermittent windshield wiper.
Great Feuds in Technology details the legendary battles of the Ford Motor Company, the Wright Brothers vs. Glenn Curtis, Philo T Farnsworth vs. David Sarnoff and more.
Killer Colt : Murder, Disgrace, and the Making of an American Legend chronicles the story of the gun and the man who transformed the American West along with lawsuits aplenty.
Tube : the Invention of Television covers the inventors and the patent battles over who would get credit and control the enormous market created by TV.

July 2012 marked the opening of the Elijah J. McCoy USPTO office in Detroit, the first ever Patent and Trademark Office outside of Washington, DC. The tremendous innovative power fostered by the automotive industry is one reason they chose Detroit. Now local inventors won’t have to go far for assistance in speeding up the patent process and the creation of more US business, industry and jobs.

Youth Historical Novel: "The Lions of Little Rock"

While researching The Lions of Little Rock, author Kristin Levine zeroed in on 1958 when Little Rock, Arkansas, was starting to react to forced integration of the public schools. By setting her novel at that time, she gives it a compelling undertone, as readers witness the governor closing the high schools and citizens forming groups such as the Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC).

This historical novel for youth offers dynamic characters and plot, starring painfully shy twelve-year-old Marlee. Readers will be moved when Marlee bids good-bye to her beloved older sister who is sent away for high school. Left at home, Marlee struggles to make friends, when suddenly an unexpected friendship with a new girl, Liz, boosts her confidence and helps her to understand where she stands in the fight against racism. I found Levine's book informative, warm, and highly entertaining. Reviews have been strongly positive, including this from the New York Times Book Review: ". . . Satisfying, gratifying, touching, weighty — this authentic piece of work has got soul." Levine also wrote The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults.

AADL Talks To: Hugh "Buck" Davis

Hugh_DavisHugh_Davis

In the late 1960s and early 1970s Hugh M. "Buck" Davis, a lawyer with the Detroit National Lawyers Guild, worked with Chicago Seven Trial lawyers William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass to represent John Sinclair, Pun Plamondon, and Jack Forrest in Ann Arbor's CIA Bombing Conspiracy case. In this interview, Davis talks about his life as an unrepentant radical lawyer; the importance of Judge Damon J. Keith's famous "Keith Decision" ; and reflects on the personalities of former White Panther friends and clients.

Read Buck's People's History of the CIA Bombing Conspiracy.

Attachment Size
AADL_Talks_To-Hugh_Davis.mp3 20.04 MB
Syndicate content