Celebrate Constitution Day – Take the Constitution Quiz

constitutionConstitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution by thirty-nine brave men on September 17, 1787, recognizing all who, are born in the U.S. or by naturalization, have become citizens.

Test your knowledge of the Constitution. Take the Constitution Quiz and see how well you do.

Good luck!



Our National Anthem Celebrates its 200th Anniversary

flagFrances Scott Key was a 35-year-old Washington lawyer who’d been opposed to America’s entry into the War of 1812 from the beginning. But on the evening of September 13, 1814, he found himself watching as a prisoner on a navy ship, as the British mercilessly attacked Fort McHenry, a small fort protecting the city of Baltimore.

Key later remembered thinking it unlikely that the Americans guarding the Fort could withstand the attack, which lasted more than 24 hours.

But the next morning, he made an observation that would later be forever preserved in history:

The American flag was still there.

He was so “overcome with joy”  Key began to write words to the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry,” which was then set to music and became our beloved “The Star-Spangled Banner”.


FBI Activates New Biometric Identification System

Called Next Generation Identification (NGI), it is a state-of-the-art digital platform of biometric and other types of identity information. NGI includes more than 30 million digitized records—and as many as 83 million digitized fingerprint cards. It replaces the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).Fingerprint_Search

The conversion from manual to digital systems began more than two decades ago when paper files outgrew the space at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. They were shipped to West Virginia, where the FBI built a campus in Clarksburg in 1992 for its Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division. In 2010 , CJIS broke ground on a new Biometric Technology Center and redoubled its efforts to digitize  the files.  The digitization of 8.8 million files in two years added more data points to the NGI program, and eliminated the need to move scores of cabinets full of paper into the new technology center.

It makes those records immediately accessible to law enforcement across the country,” said Penny Harker, who runs the Biometric Services Unit at CJIS. She said fulfilling requests for fingerprint matches that once took hours now take just minutes or seconds. “It’s a great benefit to them not having a delay simply because we were still storing files in a manual format.”

Although most paper files were shredded after the digitization process, some were not. The FBI fingerprint cards of historic criminals such as John Dillinger, Bonnie Parker, and Clyde Barrow remain.



Voting and Elections Get Their Own Title

uscin the United States Code (USC) that is.

Provisions relating to voting and elections are being transferred from titles 2 (Congress) and 42 (Public Health and Welfare) into a new Title 52, Voting and Elections. The transfers are necessary and desirable to create a well organized, coherent structure for this body of law and to improve the overall organization of the USC. No statutory text is altered. The provisions are merely being relocated from one place to another in the Code.

In 1926, when the organizational structure of the USC was initially established, no separate title for voting and elections was created. At that time, only two federal statutory provisions relating to voting and elections were in existence.

Since 1960, an extensive body of federal statutory law relating to voting and elections has been enacted, including title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1960, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Upon enactment, each of these laws was incorporated into the existing structure of the Code in the most logical manner possible. However, as this body of law has grown and evolved, it has become increasingly apparent that a separate title is needed. Title 52, Voting and Elections, provides a well organized, coherent structure for this important body of law while simplifying the structure of titles 2 and 42.

For the online version of the United States Code, the transfers will occur on September 1, 2014, after which the new Code citations should be used. For the printed version of the Code, the transfers will occur effective with supplement II of the 2012 edition.

Test Your Knowledge with New Mobile App

from 8/13/Census Press Release -Census-App-Pop-Quiz-home-screen-301x212

The U.S. Census Bureau has released Census PoP Quiz, a new interactive mobile application that challenges users’ knowledge of demographic facts for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The app is free and available for both iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets.  Features include

  • Challenges that test knowledge of topics such as population, housing and commuting.
  • Questions that span locations in all 50 states and the nation’s capital.
  • Badges to share with contacts via social media connections

Learn the percentage of the population that walk or drive to work in your state or the percentage of people who make between $50,000 and $75,000. Find out how many women who have doctoral degrees in a particular state.   This is just a sample of information which can be found using this app.

Census PoP Quiz provides an introduction to the statistics that define our growing, changing nation and is a great way for everyone to learn facts about all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the nation in a fun, relevant way.

Other Census Bureau Mobile Apps:

  • America’s Economy — Provides real-time updates for 20 key economic indicators from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • dwellr — Enables people to compare their preferences to find 25 “ideal” cities or towns, based on statistics from the American Community Survey, that best fit their lifestyle. Users can check their current locations and share their results on Facebook and Twitter.


New Website For Presidential Documents

proc4417The Legislative Research Special Interest Section of the Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C., Inc. (LLSDC)  recently announced the availability of a new website entitled Executive Orders and Other Presidential Documents: Sources and Explanations.

As noted in their post, “the site attempts to briefly lay out and link to all major sources for these materials which includes Presidential directives, proclamations, signing statementsexecutive orders,  memoranda, and other documents.”

The following materials are also available at the website:

  • CFR, Title 3 Presidential Documents
  • Federal Register
  • Public Papers of the President

Federal Drug Sentences Can Be Cut Retroactively

usscThe U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) voted unanimously to retroactively apply an amendment approved earlier this year that lowers federal guidelines for sentencing persons convicted of drug trafficking offenses.  This means that many offenders currently in prison could be eligible for reduced sentences beginning November 2015, providing Congress takes no action to disapprove the drug guidelines amendment before November 1, 2014.

The April amendment to the guidelines lowered the base offense levels in the Drug Quantity Table across drug types, which means lower sentences for most drug offenders going forward.  The USSC then decided that judges could extend that reduction to offenders currently in prison, but with a requirement that reduced sentences cannot take effect until November 1, 2015. Under the guidelines, no offender would be released unless a judge reviews the case to determine
whether a reduced sentence poses a risk to public safety and is otherwise appropriate.

Congress has until November 1, 2014 to disapprove the amendment to reduce drug guidelines. Should Congress choose to let the guideline reductions stand, courts could then begin considering petitions from prisoners for sentence reductions.

After implementing this change, the USSC estimates that:

  • 46,290 offenders would be eligible to have their cases reviewed by a judge to determine if their sentences should be reduced.
  • Offenders eligible for a reduction could have their sentences reduced by an average of 25 months, or 18.8%. They would still serve 108 months, on average.
  • Over time, these sentence reductions could result in a savings of up to 79,740 bed years (a bed year is the equivalent of one federal prisoner occupying a prison bed for a year).



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