The Constitution specifically grants Congress its most important power the authority to make laws. A bill, or proposed law, only becomes a law after both the House of Representatives and the Senate have approved it in the same form. The two houses share other powers, many of which are listed in Article I, Section 8. These include the power to declare war, coin money, raise an army and navy, regulate commerce, establish rules of immigration and naturalization, and establish the federal courts and their jurisdictions.
The American Revolution began the process of creating a new nation in a number of different ways; by protesting British rule through legal and extra-legal actions; by waging a war to end America's status as a colonized territory; and by designing new forms of government for what Patriots hoped would become independent states.
A framework for a new and stronger national government had been crafted at the Philadelphia Convention by a handful of leaders. But how could their proposed system be made into law?
No protesting the government? No immigrants allowed in? No freedom of the press. Lawmakers jailed? Is this the story of the Soviet Union during the Cold War? No. It describes the United States in 1798 after the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts.
California was admitted to the Union as the 16th free state. In exchange, the south was guaranteed that no federal restrictions on slavery would be placed on Utah or New Mexico. Texas lost its boundary claims in New Mexico, but the Congress compensated Texas with $10 million. Slavery was maintained in the nation's capital, but the slave trade was prohibited. Finally, and most controversially, a Fugitive Slave Law was passed, requiring northerners to return runaway slaves to their owners under penalty of law.
At the dawn of the 20th century, nine out of ten African Americans lived in the South. Jim Crow laws of segregation ruled the land. The Supreme Court upheld the power of the Southern states to create two "separate but equal" societies with its 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson opinion. It would be for a later Supreme Court to judge that they fell short of the "equal" requirement.
Hammurabi is the best known and most celebrated of all Mesopotamian kings. He ruled the Babylonian Empire from 1792-50 B.C.E. Although he was concerned with keeping order in his kingdom, this was not his only reason for compiling the list of laws. When he began ruling the city-state of Babylon, he had control of no more than 50 square miles of territory. As he conquered other city-states and his empire grew, he saw the need to unify the various groups he controlled.
Three years after the Supreme Court declared race-based segregation illegal, a military showdown took place in Little Rock, Arkansas, when nine black students attempted to attend the all-white Central High School on September 3, 1957.
Slaves did not accept their fate without protest. Many instances of rebellion were known to Americans, even in colonial times. These rebellions were not confined to the South. In fact, one of the earliest examples of a slave uprising was in 1712 in Manhattan. As African Americans in the colonies grew greater and greater in number, there was a justifiable paranoia on the part of the white settlers that a violent rebellion could occur in one's own neighborhood. It was this fear of rebellion that led each colony to pass a series of laws restricting slaves' behaviors. The laws were known as slave codes.
The emergence of the Internet and the digital world has changed the way people access produce and share information and knowledge Yet people in Africa face challenges in accessing scholarly publications journals and learning materials in general At the heart of these challenges and solutions to them is copyright the branch of intellectual property rights that covers written and related works This book gives the reader an understanding of the legal and practical issues posed by copyright for access to learning materials in Africa and identifies the relevant lesson best policies and best practices that would broaden and deepen this access This book is based on the work of the African Copyright and Access to Knowledge ACA2K research network launched in late 2007 as a network of researchers committed to probing the relationship between copyright and learning materials access in eight African countries Egypt Ghana Kenya Morocco Mozambique Senegal South Africa and Uganda
In this course, we’ll introduce you to copyrights and copyright protection. This program is of low difficulty and no prior knowledge of intellectual property law is required.
A copyright is an intellectual property device that protects a creative work from duplication if it is fixed in a tangible medium. The course will look at the types of creations that can be protected by copyright law and discuss federal copyright law as set forth in Title 17 of the United States code.
The course covers the copyright requirements of originality, creativity and fixation in a tangible medium. We will distinguish between non-copyrightable “ideas” and copyrightable expressions. We spend much of our time looking at the important applications of these ideas to computer programs and software, which have often rendered traditional copyright rules anachronistic. Included in this discussion are the effects of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.
The course next turns to copyright duration, renewal and termination and how they are applied to copyrighted works based on the years that the works were created.
Finally, we will look at notice and registration, and compliance with registration and recording procedures with the United States Copyright Office. While these steps are not required for copyright protection to attach, we will discuss the important benefits that they bestow.
The goal of this program is to allow you to apply the copyright rules to determine whether work can be copyrighted, how copyright protection can be established and for how long the protection lasts. Enforcing copyrights and fair use and other defenses against copyright enforcement will be the subjects of another course.
This course is a primer in methods by which legal disputes can be resolved without litigation, both by the parties themselves and under the auspices of the justice system.
This is an introductory level course and no prior knowledge or experience with dispute resolution or the justice system is necessary.
Our first module is an overview of the landscape of alternative dispute resolution and includes discussion of the Federal Arbitration Act, passed in 1925, which still largely governs ADR in the United States, and especially in the federal court system. The first module also introduces various other methods of dispute resolution.
Module 2 focuses on negotiation between the parties, specifically facilitation of settlements and the settlement process. We’ll also look at settlement negotiations that are required and supervised by courts in many cases. Finally, we will discuss settlement agreements and their requirements for enforceability.
Module 3 turns to mediation, which is more formal negotiation supervised by a mediator, but that does not result in a formal decision, as in the case of arbitration. The module looks at when mediation is appropriate and the role and responsibilities of the mediator. We also look at various styles of mediation and the governing bodies and organizations that discuss and encourage best practices.
Modules 4 and 5 discuss the most formal component of the ADR landscape: arbitration. Arbitration allows a binding resolution to be rendered outside of the court system. We will focus on arbitrator qualifications, arbitration procedures and arbitration agreements. In module five, we will look at the enforceability of arbitration awards and the mechanisms by which the awards can be confirmed in federal court so that they can be enforced by normal collection procedures.
This course should give you a thorough introduction to the world of alternative dispute resolution and serve as an important component of a comprehensive understanding of the processes by which disputes are resolved in our system.
An interview conducted by the ACLU in March of 2005, preceding a Supreme Court hearing in the case of Castle Rock, Colorado v. Gonzales. This case determined the accountability of local law enforcement for failing to enforce court orders that protect victims of abuse by a spouse or acquaintance.
Many textbooks mention the Trail of Tears, but fail to mention that this early displacement of an ethnic minority is only the one of many legally-sanctioned forced relocations. This lesson will address the displacement of American Indians through the Trail of Tears, the forced deportation of Mexican Americans during the Great Depression, and the internment of Japanese American citizens during WWII.
This video-course surveys bankruptcy law and focuses on the most common forms of bankruptcy and most important rules. The course opens by looking at the structure of the bankruptcy code, the system of bankruptcy courts and roles of federal and state law in the bankruptcy process. We also look at the roles of the debtor, the creditors, the court and the bankruptcy trustee.
We then focus on rules common to bankruptcy proceeding, including the all-important automatic stay, the effects of bankruptcy discharge and exempt property.
Module 2-4 look at the specifics of the three most common types of bankruptcies: those under Chapters 7, 11 and 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. In each case, we’ll look at eligibility and the rules, qualifications and procedures that govern bankruptcy under that Chapter.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is liquidation, wherein all the assets of the debtor except for exempt property are vulnerable to collection, but which affords the debtor a discharge on most outstanding debts. We’ll look at the requirements for achieving this relief, the procedures followed by the trustee and the scope of the allowable discharge.
Chapter 11 and 13 are “plan” bankruptcies, under which the debtor re-organizes debts in negotiation with the creditors and under court supervision. Generally, Chapter 11 is used by companies, while Chapter 13 is only available for individuals. In both cases, we’ll look at the timelines and processes of the proceedings and the enforcement, modification or conversion of the applicable bankruptcy proceeding.
Finally, in Module 5, we’ll look at the forms and filings applicable to bankruptcy proceedings, including the petition, schedules and filing fees. We’ll also briefly look at bankruptcy crimes and penalties and other some laws that affect bankruptcy cases.
Once you complete this course, you should have a comprehensive understanding of the structure of the Bankruptcy Code and system, an understanding of how the bankruptcy system works and a basis upon which to research and learn more detailed necessary information.
This video-course is a survey of the civil litigation process, from the filing through appeals, though the discovery process is left for our video-courses in discovery.
This is an introductory level course and no prior knowledge of law or the litigation process is required.
The course starts with an overview of the American court system, both on the state and federal levels. We’ll go over the separate systems, their roles and where they interact. We’ll also focus on the roles of the Supreme Court as the top of both systems for federal and constitutional issues. We also look at the questions of which courts to file in and which laws to apply – the questions of jurisdiction, venue and choice of law.
In module 2, we look at the pleadings: the complaint, answer, counterclaim, crossclaim, etc. We’ll examine the requirements of each of these documents and their elements. We’ll also look at the various types of motions that might be filed in response to pleadings.
Module 3 focuses on pre-trial practice. We’ll look at joinder of parties and joinder of claims. We’ll also look at the preclusion doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel, on which basis cases or claims can be dismissed as having been already litigated. We’ll look at class action lawsuits and their requirements. We’ll also focus on the filing, the summons and the service of process requirements to start a civil action. Finally, we’ll discuss impleaders and interpleaders, two other types of civil complaints.
Module 4 covers the trial process. We’ll focus on trial by jury and on the standards of proof and upon whom the burdens of proof rest. We’ll also go through the trial process itself, highlighting the federal rules that govern each step.
In the last module, we’ll look at the post-trial process. We’ll start with the motions that can be filed after the judgment, including motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, for new trial and for relief from judgment. Then, we’ll turn to the next step for a losing party: the appeal. We’ll use the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure as the basis for our discussion of this process. Finally, we’ll briefly look at the execution and collection of judgments, though those are covered in more detail in other courses.
We hope that this course will be a springboard to allow you to take more specific LawShelf video-courses that cover the litigation process and that this survey will help you understand the American civil litigation process.
This is an introductory level course and no prior knowledge of law or contracts is required.
This course is a survey of basic contract law across a variety of areas. The first three modules cover the nature of contracts and the basic building blocks of contracts: offer, acceptance and consideration. The nuances of each element are considered, and the course focuses on rules such as the mirror image rule, the mailbox rule, mutuality of consideration and promissory estoppel. We also focus on the Uniform Commercial Code and its rules for contracts for the sale of goods.
In Module 4, we cover contract defenses, which allow contracts to be unenforceable despite the building blocks of the contract being in place. Defenses include illegality, incapacity, duress, unconscionability, undue influence, mistake and fraud. We will also look at the statute of frauds, which requires certain contracts to be in writing to be enforceable.
Our final module covers performance and breach, discussing when a contract has been breached and when one party’s breach allows the other party to cease performance. The module also covers contract remedies, which is the study of how contract damages are measured and when specific performance, where the court orders someone to do something, it an appropriate contracts remedy.
This course should give you an understanding of how contract law works the tools to continue with more advanced studies of more specific areas of contract and transactional law.
This video-course surveys crimes and their punishments under the state and federal justice systems in the United States. We’ll focus on the natures and elements of the most common crimes and criminal law defenses.
This is an introductory level course and no prior knowledge of law or criminal law is required.
We’ll start the course by looking at the reasons for punishing crime and the various states of mind that are necessary to establish criminal culpability. We’ll also look at constitutional limitations on criminal law, including due process and the “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibition. We’ll also look at the sources of criminal law, including state statutes, case law and the Model Penal Code.
In module 2, we’ll look at “inchoate” crimes, which are crimes that are punishable even if the criminal acts contemplated are never carried out or completed. These include conspiracy, attempt, solicitation, facilitation and incitement. We’ll also discuss the after-the-fact crime of obstruction of justice.
In modules 3 and 4, we’ll turn to discussions of specific crimes. In module 3, we’ll look at violent crimes, such as homicide, rape, assault and arson. In module 4, we’ll turn to financial crimes, including theft, robbery, burglary, extortion and forgery.
In our final module, we’ll turn to defenses to criminal charges. We’ll discuss the requirements and limitations to many of these. They include self-defense, defense of others, necessity, duress, consent, insanity, diminished capacity, mistake, infancy and entrapment.
When you complete this course, you should have a broad understanding of crimes and the framework on which our criminal justice system works. This will make more advanced courses, such as white-collar crime and those that discuss complex criminal laws such as securities fraud, easier to understand and apply.
This course takes you through the federal laws and regulations that seek to protect our environment. It discusses landmark legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act and looks at how these laws are administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.
This is an introductory level course and no prior knowledge of law is required.
We will start the course by looking at remedies for environmental damages that are available under the common-law and standard tort rules, few though they are. We will look at environmental lawsuits based on trespass, nuisance and negligent and strict liability tort causes of action. We will also look at anti—SLAPP laws that many states have passed to protect people who file lawsuits against big companies for environmental and other injuries.
Module two moves to air pollution control and the clean air act. We will look at the reasons behind the statute and what it covers. We’ll discuss the pollutants regulated by the act and the national ambient air quality standards, which are set by the EPA to protect the public health. We will also discuss the state, federal and cooperative regulatory structure under which air pollution controls are enforced.
Module three moves to clean water, focusing mainly on the Clean Water Act, also administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. This time, we will look at the national pollutant discharge elimination system, which regulates point sources that discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States. We will also look at wetlands protection, storm water runoff and other areas also controlled by clean water legislation.
Module four segues to a wide variety of other pieces of environmental legislation. These include the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and many others. We will look at the roles of each of these acts in the landscape of environmental regulation.
Our final module looks at the protection of public lands and wildlife, including the Endangered Species Act, wildlife protection legislation and public land conservation. We will focus specifically on the balancing tests that must be applied to ensure that economically viable use can be made of public and private lands while keeping damage to the environment minimal.
When you complete this course, you will understand the key pieces of environmental legislation and their roles in the comprehensive framework of environmental protection.
This course is a survey of immigration law, from illegal entrants to legal nonimmigrant entrants to lawful permanent residents to naturalized citizens.
This is an introductory level course and no prior knowledge of law or immigration is required.
The course starts with an explanation of the structure of US immigration law and the continuing economic and social forces that affect it. We’ll also cover the roles of the branches of government and discuss why immigration law is almost exclusively in the federal sphere. We’ll also go over the various federal statutes that govern immigration law.
Module 2 looks at nonimmigrant entry into the United States. We’ll look at the visa waiver program and then at the many visa classes available. We’ll also look trusted traveler programs that make entry easier, such as Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST.
Module turns to “lawful permanent residents,” otherwise known as “green card” holders. We’ll discuss the eligibility criteria and the process to obtain this coveted status. We’ll also look at how refugees and asylum seekers can earn green cards.
Module 4 turns to the ultimate step an immigrant can achieve: US citizenship by naturalization. We’ll look at the benefits of citizenship and the pathways to citizenship. We’ll go through the step-by-step naturalization process in detail and look at the standards by which the USCIS evaluates citizenship applications.
Finally, we’ll focus on immigration law in the scheme of international laws. We’ll look at treaties and other international laws and the problem of refugees and how international law and American law deals with them. We’ll also take a look at recent trends in immigration law in the US and global systems.
We are confident that this course will give you a solid background in immigration law and will be an excellent first step in learning this complex but important and relevant area of law.