The month is May and “may” is also a word on which many disputes have arisen and many court cases have hinged. One would typically define “may” as permissive. However, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, some courts have interpreted “may” to be synonymous with “shall” or “must” “in an effort to effectuate what is said to be legislative intent.” It seems like that may be stretching a bit.


Courthouse Creepiness

The American Bar Association has featured 9 haunted courthouses! Check it out!



Banned Books 2014

Celebrate the Freedom to Read during Banned Books Week 2014. For over 30 years libraries, publishers, booksellers, journalists, teachers and readers have been coming together during Banned Book Week to explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning. The American Library Association compiles a yearly list of the most frequently challenged books.

The top five most challenged books for 2013:
1. Captain Underpants (series), Dav Pilkey
• Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
2. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
• Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
• In our collection at: LAW-Culp Collection (3rd Floor-Range 3A) PS3563.O8749B55 1994
3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
• Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
4. Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James
• Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
5. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
• Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group


Self Defense Against Robots?

What are the legal implications of shooting down a drone that is trespassing on your property? What about disabling a peeping Tom drone? In their paper “Self Defense Against Robots”, Michael Froomkin and Zak Colangelo examine “when, under U.S. law, humans may use force against robots to protect themselves, their property, and their privacy.”




That Thing in Your Hand

The highlighter. Every law student has one . . . or two . . . or more. But before most of today’s law students were born, law students underlined important passages in their casebooks (and probably some unimportant ones too). A few years back, the New York Times Magazine section wrote an article about the evolution of highlighters. Be ironic. Print it out and underline the important passages.


John McKay Headed to Palestine

John McKay, former US Attorney, has been with SU Law school since 2007. He teaches very popular courses on National Security Law and the Constitutional Law of Terrorism. He also works with the externship program and helps students connect with attorneys, judges and other leaders in the legal profession. He will be moving to Ramallah in the West Bank to work for the US State Department coordinating Rule of Law initiatives.


Washington State Library to follow the Blue Angels?

It is big news in Seattle that federal budget cuts have caused cancellation of the Blue Angels’ annual visit to Seafair. In a similar vein, state budget cuts may impact another local institution: the Washington State Library. In recent decades, the library has been moved off of the Capitol campus. Budget constraints threaten additional changes. Read the Seattle Times article describing the budget maneuvering that has accompanied the library’s travails.


Something about Fools and the Legal World

Sure there are plenty of foolish aspects to the law, but this April Fool’s posting is about foolscap. Foolscap is (among more obvious things) a type of paper used in writing and printing. It’s longer dimensions made it antiquity’s equivalent to today’s legal paper. Read the first paragraph of chapter 10 in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House for a reference. Read all of Bleak House for a commentary on the drawn out, circuitous and expensive nature of judicial proceedings 150 years ago. Then read A Civil Action to see what has changed.


Who is Paying Taxes and How Much?

There are many claims about who is paying taxes and how much they pay.  As far as individuals and federal income tax, you can look at the statistics yourself. You can sort by state, tax rate and other characteristics.  Judge for yourself rather than relying on the talking heads at Fox News or the Huffington Post.


One Dollar President Coins

In honor of President’s Day, we look at the Presidential $1 Coin Program. Initiated by the Presidential Coin Act of 2005, minting and distribution was suspended in 2011 due to excessive inventory. So if you want you McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, Taft or Wilson coin, you will need to work directly with the U.S. Mint.