Monday, December 9, 2013

NLRB v. Noel Canning Gets Help From ConSource's Digital Library

There is a digital library that is making the life of the lawyers in the SCOTUS case, NLRB v. Noel Canning, much easier. "As they prepare briefs in the landmark case, The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource), along with its pro bono SCOTUSource project at Harvard Law School, is researching and digitizing a range of documents specifically related to Noel Canning.

"The upcoming U.S. Supreme Court argument over the president's power to make recess appointments has sent lawyers and researchers hunting through centuries-old documents for historical evidence to prove just how broad or narrow the power is. As the case nears the argument date of Jan. 13, a main focus of the briefing is the early meaning of the Constitution's recess-appointment clause, which gives the president 'power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate.'"

"We had to do a significant amount of historical research," said Jones Day partner Noel Francisco, who represents Noel Canning. "Particularly for cases like this one, where founding-era history is important, online resources are of enormous value to lawyers and judges alike." He cited a ConSource document in his main brief. By assisting the parties on both sides in cases like Noel Canning, the project aims to help the court get 'the full narrative of the history behind a constitutional issue.' We want to get at the parts of the story that may not be told because they are in documents sitting in the basement of some archive."

"ConSource's next project sounds like an originalist's dream: working with the Library Company of Philadelphia to digitize materials from the library that the framers used during the constitutional convention. 'We might find some annotations from the founders in the margins.' Imagine what the justices would do with those."

This is both an originalist's dream and an archivist's dream. To digitize and make accessible these founding-era documents is extraordinary. I can't wait to play with the ConSource database to see the other documents that are available.

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