Remembering 9/11: National Archives 9/11 Commission Records

Today, we remember the tragedy of the terror attacks that fell the World Trade Center Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001. As nearly two decades have passed, the details of the day may have faded from memory even as the pain suffered by those who lost loved ones as the towers fell stings just as sharply. Preservation of the details to remind us of this pivotal event in American history is, therefore, important.

The job of investigating the details was originally assigned by Congress (see Pub. L. 107-306) to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which became known as the 9/11 Commission. The records generated by the investigation are now entrusted to the National Archives, which makes the details of the day forever committed to our nation’s memory.

Find more information about the 9/11 Commission Records at https://www.archives.gov/research/9-11.

Happy Women's Equality Day!

Today, August 26, is Women's Equality Day. The date commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees women the right to vote. It states that "the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

Women’s Equality Day was established at the behest of Congressional Representative, Bella Abzug (D-NY), to observe women’s suffrage and to recognize the contributions of women throughout history. This day of recognition also celebrates women’s accomplishments in public and private spheres.

For resources on Women's Equality Day, visit the National Women's History Museum online.

An Important Day in Constitutional History: Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964)

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During Constitutional Law Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library, we are taking a look back at a landmark Supreme Court decision, Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964). Tomorrow marks the 55th anniversary of the decision and its role in reinforcing our Sixth Amendment rights.

Danny Escobedo was arrested without a warrant on January 20, 1960. As the prime suspect in the shooting death of his brother-in-law, he was held for questioning for more than 18 hours. Escobedo asked repeatedly for his attorney to be present, but repeatedly, his request was denied. It was only after being indicted that Escobedo was granted access to a lawyer, violating his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to due process and access to counsel. The Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966) decision just two years later implicitly overruled Escobedo, but it was, nonetheless, an important step in the process toward ensuring a constitutional right to counsel for the criminal accused.

75th Anniversary of D-Day

Not Forgotten

Today, we remember the sacrifices of the brave men and women who served our country in World War II. On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 troops composed of U.S. and allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France to fight the forces of fascism. (see Army.mil Features: D-Day). Today, 75 years later, we honor those troops who fought for the very existence of democracy across the globe.

Operation Overlord

The invasion of Normandy, named “Operation Overlord,” was the culmination of months of planning and preparation. On the morning of the invasion, General Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his “Order of the Day,” commanding commencement of the operation. The order informed troops that they were “about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months” and that they would “accept nothing less than full Victory!”

Find more on General Eisenhower’s D-Day preparations and orders online from the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

An Optimistic Proclamation

Against the backdrop of anticipating the greatest battle in American history, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Proclamation 2614 on May 3, 1944, encouraging his fellow Americans to celebrate Flag Day on June 14, 1944. He did so with knowledge of the stakes of Operation Overlord and the possibilities for failure. And yet, FDR’s optimism rings loudly, even 75 years later, in this paragraph found on the Harris County Law Library shelves in 58 Stat. 1134:

Let us then display our flag proudly, knowing that it symbolizes the strong and constructive ideals—the democratic ideals—which we oppose to the evil of our enemies. Let us display our flag, and the flags of all the United Nations which fight beside us, to symbolize our joint brotherhood, our joint dedication, under God, to the cause of unity and the freedom of men.

Happy National Space Day

As the public law library for Space City, we’ve taken a special interest in space law. And there are plenty of interesting things in Texas law about space, including the Texas Administrative Code provision pictured here on procedures for astronauts to vote from outer space! Celebrate National Space Day by taking a look at the Harris County Law Library’s accumulated knowledge of space law via the links below:

Space Laws

  • The Outer Space Treaty, the multilateral agreement that established the governance of state activities in the exploration and use of outer space, was signed by more than 100 countries. It was first proposed by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in August of 1966, making this the 50th anniversary of its conception.

Space Law Collection

Further Reading

Harris County Law Library: 2018 by the Numbers

Click to download  Harris County Law Library: 2018 by the Numbers

Click to download Harris County Law Library: 2018 by the Numbers

Last year was a busy year at the Harris County Law Library. Our patrons visited over 61,000 times and our law librarians answered more than 25,000 questions. That’s over 100 question per day at our reference desk! Click to download our report, Harris County Law Library: 2018 by the Numbers, to check out more stats on how we serve our community everyday.

Looking Back – Thurgood Marshall Confirmed to the United States Supreme Court

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On August 30, 1967, Thurgood Marshall was confirmed as an Associate Justice to the United States Supreme Court, beginning what would become a 24-year career as a judge and one of the most-noted liberal voices on our nation’s highest court. Nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson, Marshall became the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court, a milestone that capped his illustrious legal career and his lifelong fight for equality and civil rights. In 2016, in honor of National African American History Month, the Harris County Law Library created a digital exhibit celebrating the life and legacy of Justice Marshall highlighting his career as a civil rights attorney, Solicitor General and Supreme Court justice. Being nominated to the highest court is an accomplishment in and of itself, but to survive the arduous confirmation process is a true test in perseverance and a sign of one's worthiness.

Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution gives the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, the power to nominate persons to the Supreme Court. The appointment itself is just one part of a complex process that culminates, in most instances, with the swearing in of a new Supreme Court justice. It begins with the pre-hearing stage, which is investigative in nature, with the nominee responding to detailed questions posed by members of the Senate's Committee on the Judiciary seeking biographical, professional, and financial information. The American Bar Association, through its Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, also conducts its own independent, impartial evaluation of the candidate, focusing on his/her professional qualifications and competence as well as the nominee’s integrity and judicial temperament. The ABA does not consider the nominee’s political affiliation or ideology in its evaluation. The investigative stage is followed by the hearing stage at which the nominee testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee. This has been the practice since 1955. The hearings consist of statements by the chair and other members of the committee as well as an opening statement by the nominee. Questioning by the committee ensues. These hearings serve many purposes, including enlightening those members of the Senate who may still be undecided and emphasizing certain issues. Public witnesses are also invited to appear. After the public hearings, the committee meets with the nominee privately in a closed door committee session. The final step is the reporting of the recommendation to the full Senate.

Justice Marshall was confirmed by the Senate with a vote of 69 yeas and 11 nos. You can access the Senate's report in the Congressional Record at the new service provided by the United States Government Publishing Office, Govinfo. Additional articles about Thurgood Marshall's confirmation can be found in Harvard Black Letter Journal available here at the Law Library through HeinOnline. Check out our previous blog post for information on how to access HeinOnline via your own mobile device.

To learn more about the United States Supreme Court Nomination and Confirmation process, please see:

On September 4, you will have the opportunity to follow the confirmation hearings held by the Senate's Committee on the Judiciary as public hearings are scheduled to begin regarding nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. Check out the Committee's website for nomination resources.