AALL 2019 Call for Bloggers

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We are hoping to once again provide robust coverage of the AALL Annual Meeting.  With this in mind, we are looking for volunteers to recap one or more programs in Atlanta. It’s a great way to serve the SIS and help those who can’t attend the Annual Meeting to learn a little.

Below are a list of some of the programs that we think would be especially interesting to FCIL-SIS members, but we are always open to members covering other programs, so if you’re going to be at something and would like to cover it, just let us know. To volunteer for any of the programs below or any other program, just email Alyson Drake at alyson.drake@ttu.edu.

Saturday, July 13:

  • 8:45am-12:00pm:  FCIL Bootcamp: Basic Training (Offsite–Georgetown)
  • 1:30pm-5:00pm:  FCIL Bootcamp: Advanced Training (Offsite-Georgetown)

Sunday, July 14:

  • 11:30am-12:30pm:  GDPR: What Your Library Needs to Know (WCC Room 147 AB)
  • 12:45pm-2:15pm:  FCIL-SIS Business Meeting (WCC Room 102 A)
  • 2:30pm-3:30pm:  Growing Out, Not Climbing Up (WCC Room 146 A)
  • 4:00pm-5:15pm:  Diversity & Inclusion Symposium: Privilege and Power in Legal Environments: Overcoming Barriers to Entry and Advancement (WCC Room 146 A)

Monday, July 15:

  • 9:30am-10:30am: Hungry, Hungry Hypos: Designing Raw Materials for Problem-Based Instruction (WCC Room 145 AB)
  • 9:30am-10:3am: Polishing Your Public Speaking: Beyond Picturing People in Their Underpants (WCC Room 150 AB)
  • 11:00am-12:00pm: The Age of AI: Emerging Regulatory Landscape Around the World (WCC Room 146 A)
  • 11:00am-12:00pm: Let’s Get Experiential! Creating Strategic Partnerships to Develop Experiential Simulation Courses (WCC Room 150 AB)
  • 1:30-2:45pm:  FCIL-SIS Teaching Foreign and International Legal Research Interest Group Meeting (Marriott Magnolia)
  • 3:00-4:00pm:  Locating Latin American Legal Sources (WCC Room 145 AB)
  • 5:30-6:30pm:  FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant for Foreign Law Librarians Recipient Presentation (Marriott Marquis Ballroom Salon 4)

Tuesday, July 16:

  • 8:30am-9:30am:  Instruction Zone: Active Learning Ideas Showcase (WCC Room 145 AB)
  • 11:15am-12:15pm: Social Media as Primary Sources of Government Information (WCC 145 AB)
  • 11:15am-12:15pm: Better with Science: Strengthening Patron Learning (WCC Room 152 AB)

FCIL-SIS Book Discussion Group to Meet Again During Washington, D.C. Conference

nofriendbutthemountainsOver the past several years, the FCIL-SIS Book Discussion Group, started by Dan Wade in in 2014, has become a popular informal addition to the AALL Annual Meeting’s FCIL conference programming.  Each year, we select a book to read in advance of the conference and meet during the conference to enjoy a book discussion, lunch or snacks, and each other’s company.

This year, the group will meet on Monday, July 15, at 12:15, during the Attendee Lunch in the Exhibit Hall.  We will meet in the Registration Area, find a table, and take advantage of the complimentary lunch.

This year’s book selection is No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, by Behrouz Boochani.  Mr. Boochani is an Iranian-Kurdish journalist, human rights defender, poet and film producer. He was born in western Iran and has been held in the Australian-run Manus Island detention center since 2013.  The following book description appears on the Pan Macmillan Australia website:

 

WINNER OF THE VICTORIAN PREMIER’S LITERARY PRIZE FOR LITERATURE AND FOR NON-FICTION 2019

Where have I come from? From the land of rivers, the land of waterfalls, the land of ancient chants, the land of mountains…

In 2013, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani was illegally detained on Manus Island. He has been there ever since.

People would run to the mountains to escape the warplanes and found asylum within their chestnut forests…

This book is the result. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi. It is a voice of witness, an act of survival. A lyric first-hand account. A cry of resistance. A vivid portrait through five years of incarceration and exile.

Do Kurds have any friends other than the mountains? 

WINNER OF THE NSW PREMIER’S AWARD 2019 

WINNER OF THE ABIA GENERAL FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019

PRAISE FOR NO FRIEND BUT THE MOUNTAINS

“Boochani has produced a literary, journalistic and philosophical tour de force. It may well stand as one of the most important books published in Australia in two decades…” The Saturday Paper

“A chant, a cry from the heart, a lament, fuelled by a fierce urgency, written with the lyricism of a poet, the literary skills of a novelist, and the profound insights of an astute observer of human behaviour and the ruthless politics of a cruel and unjust imprisonment.” Arnold Zable, author of the award-winning Jewels and Ashes and Cafe Scheherazade

a shattering book every Australian should read” Benjamin Law (@mrbenjaminlaw 01/02/2019)

“In the absence of images, turn to this book to fathom what we have done, what we continue to do. It is, put simply, the most extraordinary and important book I have ever read.” Good Reading Magazine(starred review)

“Brilliant writing. Brilliant thinking. Brilliant courage.” Professor Marcia Langton AM (@marcialangton 01/02/2019)

“Not for the faint-hearted, it’s a powerful, devastating insight into a situation that’s so often seen through a political – not personal – lens.” GQ Australia

“It is an unforgettable account of man’s inhumanity to man that reads like something out of Orwell or Kafka, and is aptly described by Tofighian as ‘horrific surrealism’. It is clear from Boochani’s writing that he is a highly educated and philosophical man; he segues effortlessly between prose and poetry, both equally powerful.” –The Australian Financial Review Magazine

“Behrouz Boochani has written a book which is as powerful as it is poetic and moving. He describes his experience of living in a refugee prison with profound insight and intelligence.” Queensland Reviewers Collective

“In his book Boochani introduces us to different dimensions of his experience and thinking. Both a profound creative writing project and a strategic act of resistance, the book is part of a coherent theoretical project and critical approach.” Omid Tofighian, translator of No Friend But the Mountains

It is a voice of witness, an act of survival. A lyric first-hand account. A cry of resistance. A vivid portrait through five years of incarceration and exile.” Readings

Boochani has woven his own experiences in to a tale which is at once beautiful and harrowing, creating a valuable contribution to Australia’s literary canon.” Writing NSW

it is a voice of witness and an act of survival” Law Society of NSW Journal

 

This year’s book selection promises to foster a rich discussion, and we look forward to welcoming both past book group members and new members interested in joining the discussion.  Again, this is an informal event, and RSVPs are not necessary; however, please feel free to let us know if you are planning to participate, so that we can get a general head count ahead of time.  Any questions or comments can be emailed to Susan Gualtier at sgua@law.upenn.edu.  We look forward to seeing you all in Washington, D.C. for another great book discussion!

FCIL-SIS Awards

By Catherine Deane

Awards

The Executive Committee would like your input and help in identifying our esteemed FCIL-SIS colleagues who are deserving of these prestigious awards.

Have you, or an FCIL-SIS member you know, made a significant contribution to the profession in the last year? If so, please nominate yourself or a colleague for one of the three special awards that the FCIL-SIS presents each year during the FCIL-SIS Business Meeting.

The Daniel L. Wade FCIL-SIS Outstanding Service Award

This award honors an FCIL-SIS member who has made outstanding contributions to the Section in the areas of section activity and professional service.

Criteria include but not limited to:

  • Outstanding leadership in the Section, at meetings, and in committee work.
  • Special and notable service to the Section, such as participation in special projects.
  • Participation in Section educational programs and public-speaking activities.
  • Mentoring activities that encourage others in the Section.
  • Activities that encourage others to join the Section.

Past winners include: Dan Wade; Marci Hoffman; Mary Rumsey; Maria Smolka-Day; Teresa Miguel-Stearns; Mila Rush; Ellen Schaffer; Marylin Raisch; Dennis Sears; Mirela Roznovschi; Lyonette Louis-Jacques; Alison Shea; Jonathan Pratter; James Hart; Sergio Stone; and Victor Essien.

The Thomas H. Reynolds and Arturo A. Flores FCIL-SIS Publications Award

This award is given to an FCIL-SIS member or members who have greatly contributed to the professional development of their AALL colleagues, by enhancing the professional knowledge and capabilities of law librarians during any given year. The winning “publications” may be print, digital, or electronic initiatives.

Previous winners include Teresa Miguel-Stearns and Alison Shea; Marci Hoffman and Mary Rumsey; Wei Luo; Ralph Gaebler and Alison Shea; Mirela Roznovschi; Timothy G. Kearley; the authors of the Mexican Law and Legal Research Guide: Bianca T. Anderson, Marisol Floren-Romero, Julienne E. Grant, Jootaek Lee, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Teresa M. Miguel-Stearns, Jonathan Pratter, and Sergio Stone; Sherry Leysen and Alena Wolotira; Heidi Frostestad Kuehl and Megan A. O’Brien. You can see the publications for which they won this award on the Reynolds & Flores Publication Award website.

The Spirit of the FCIL-SIS Award

This award, my personal favorite, is presented each year to members whose work furthers our mission, serves the entire FCIL-SIS, and inspires others to act. Award winners for the past 5 years include: Loren Turner; Yemisi Dina; Thomas Mills; Sherry Leysen; Evelyn Ma; Alyson Drake; Susan Gualtier; Jootaek “Juice” Lee; Joan Policastri; Julienne Grant; Ryan Harrington; Jim Hart; and Carmen Valero.

All past award winners are listed on the Spirit Of The FCIL-SIS Award website.

More details for each award can be found the FCIL-SIS Awards and Grants Website.

Award nominations are due March 31.

You may send your nomination to anyone on the Executive Committee, Catherine Deane, Loren Turner, Sabrina Sondhi, Alex Zhang.

2019 AALL Program Proposals due Oct. 1

deadline

There is only one week left to submit your program proposals for the 2019 AALL Conference in Washington, D.C. (see here for the call for proposals, which includes resources for creating a proposal and the AMPC’s timeline).   If you are interested in proposing a FCIL-related program for the conference or in joining someone else’s program as a consultant or speaker, please contact Dennis Sears and Loren Turner. They will help you develop your ideas, recruit speakers, and edit your proposals before submission.  There is no time to waste!

AALL 2018 Recap: Training the Lawyers of Tomorrow Through the Clinics of Today: Three Models for Practical Library Services in Clinical Law School Settings & Beyond

By Kate Britt

In this program, librarians presented the different ways their libraries support their schools’ clinical programs: embedded librarians, dedicated library liaisons, and a legal research clinic.

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Stephanie Wilson of Seattle University defined the embedded librarian model as an integrated member of the course, a subject expert who understands the group’s information and instruction needs, and an active provider of continual and ongoing research and/or instruction (whether formal or informal).

Seattle University embeds a librarian in clinics that tend to do the most regulatory and statutory research. Several considerations preceded launching this program: Do students have an ongoing need for instruction? Would the fear of violating client confidentiality prevent students from seeking help? What impact would the program have on the workloads of the remaining staff? Will the director advocate for support from the institution? Finally, are the professors willing to collaborate with librarians as partners?

Embedded librarians learn about the clinic’s subject matter, document management system, and communication channels. They also inquire into the common weaknesses and needed skills of the students. The librarian and professor plan what librarian participation will look like, including frequency. Student skills are assessed on the first day of class, which helps them understand why they need research instruction. Additionally, students are introduced to the embedded librarian as “co-professor” on day one.

Embedded librarians attend every class and meeting as an active participant. They communicate with the professor proactively and teach often–at the beginning, after client interviews, and after students have started research. Upon conclusion of the course, they assess the students’ skills, solicit student feedback, and review what did and didn’t work with the professor. Wilson noted that having an embedded librarian is rewarding for the students, the library, the school, and the librarian.

Lisa Winkler of Northwestern presented the dedicated library liaison model. She is liaison to all the clinics, though some clinics retain relationships with other subject-matter expert librarians. She has faced challenges in communication difficulties resulting from the distance between the clinics and the library, developing an understanding of the internal operations of the clinics, and figuring out how to assess this model’s efficacy. Some of the advantages include better communication with those who don’t otherwise use the library, and increased flexibility and adaptability.

Winkler created a Legal Clinic Collection, housed in a “Book Nook” in the clinic center where users can happen upon useful materials. She maintains drop-in research hours in the Book Nook, allowing students and support staff to visit on their time. Other successful efforts include training sessions, research guides, and in-class tutorials.

Winkler intends to expand trainings and get more involved with the existing training schedules. She is also considering how to bring e-resources into the clinic space, how to increase outreach to other departments that support the clinics, and how to become part of the clinic community on a personal level.

Finally, the founder and lead instructor of the Cornell Legal Research Clinic, Amy Emerson,  presented the legal research clinic model. The CLRC does not take on cases. Rather, it answers legal questions on any subject but patent law. The Clinic serves the indigent, non-profits, entrepreneurs, and attorneys.

In her proposal to obtain law school approval, Emerson highlighted ABA requirements for experiential education and state bar requirements for pro bono hours. As student attorney supervisor, she had to be a member of the local bar; she counseled attendees not to see that as an insurmountable obstacle.

Formal coursework involves a syllabus, a handbook, and case rounds. The syllabus outlines skills specific to the clinic. The handbook includes ethics rules, how to conduct conflict checks, calculating and reporting billing hours, and work product issues. Case rounds are weekly meetings during which students talk about their work, with opportunities for peer review and instructor feedback.

The CLRC is increasingly popular among students, has received recognition from her employer, and is now seen as a community resource.

AALL 2018 Recap: FCIL Basics for Metadata Professionals (Deep Dive)

By Jennifer Allison

Note:
The organizers of this program have made supplementary materials available.  To access them, visit https://www.aallnet.org/recording/aall2018-fcilbasicsmetadataprof/

In my opinion, this program made it worth the while for everyone who was still in the AALL game and going to programs on the last morning of the conference.  Moderated by Ajaye Bloomstone, an acquisitions librarian from LSU, it featured three diverse and interesting speakers:

  • George Prager – Head Cataloger, NYU Law Library
  • Loyita Worley – EMEA Library Operations, Reed Smith (UK)
  • Susan Gualtier – Reference Librarian, Penn Law Library

Presentation #1:  Cataloging

George Prager kicked things off with a presentation that focused on (a) collaboration for optimal access and (b) FCIL-related cataloging problems.  He then delved into the cataloging process for FCIL materials, in which the chief question to be answered is, “What is being cataloged?”

Specifically, first the determination is made that it is a “legal publication” and then, more specifically, which kind of publication it is.  For assistance in making these determinations, George turns to the following resources:

George then outlined additional considerations to be addressed when cataloging FCIL materials, including the following:

  • Jurisdiction – local, national, or regional body that makes laws and controls a territory. A work of comparative law compares the law of two or more jurisdictions.  There are also works of public international law (law of nations) and private international law (conflict of laws).
  • Legal System – the type of law that is featured in the jurisdiction. This can include many types, although most jurisdictions fall under one of two categories, either civil law (based on Roman law; focused on codification; primarily used in continental Europe and Latin America), or common law (created by custom and judicial decisions; primarily used in the “Anglosphere” countries).
  • Legal Domain – the main distinction here is between public law (governs the legal relationship between the individual and the state, including constitutional law and administrative law) and private law (governs the legal relationship between individuals, including torts, contracts, and commercial law; confusingly, private law can also be referred to as “civil law” in certain contexts).
  • Title – this must be accurate to provide bibliographic access to texts of and about the law. The cataloger has several choices here, including (a) the law’s official short title or citation title; (b) the law’s unofficial short title or citation; (c) the official title of the enactment; (d) any other official designation.
  • Date – when determining the date of a law, there are several options, including the date of promulgation (required by RDA cataloging rules) or the year it came into force, which could be different. An additional consideration is whether the law is newly enacted or just a revision of a pre-existing one.

George then dived into the topic of subject access.  I personally paid a lot of attention during this part of the lecture, as I am a heavy user of subject keywords when I do catalog searches myself.  I am always looking to learn more about catalogers’ thought processes as they assign subject headings.  According to George, if the item is about law, then the first subject heading selected should also be legal.  George also stressed that subdivisions (such as “law and legislation”) should be used if applicable.

George then went on to discuss linguistic challenges that arise when cataloging foreign-language materials, and possible options for resolving them, including legal dictionaries, Google Translate, and FCIL librarian colleagues.

George also brought up the idea of using non-US catalog records for help in cataloging foreign-language materials.  He mentioned that, although foreign library catalog records may vary greatly in quality and completeness, records from a few specific catalogs are especially helpful, including those in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF) (http://www.bnf.fr/en/collections_and_services/catalogs.html), the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek (DNB) (http://www.dnb.de/EN/Kataloge/kataloge_node.html), and the Biblioteca Nacional de España  (BNE) (http://www.bne.es/en/Catalogos/CatalogoBibliografico/).

George pointed out that even English-language materials can pose linguistic challenges, created mainly by differences in meanings between civil and common law and between the legal English used in the US, the UK, and continental Europe.

Finally, George addressed the question of whether foreign-language subject terms should be added to records in US library catalogs. While this practice can enhance subject access, he stated, the cataloger may not have sufficient expertise to pull this off successfully.

Presentation #2:  Cataloging from a UK Perspective

Loyita Worley was the next to speak, and she admitted from the start that her presentation would be a bit different than the other two, and that she would be offering what she characterized as “the jam in the sandwich.”  (One must love the English way of saying things!)

Loyita leads the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Asia) library team for Reed Smith, an international law firm that is based in the UK.  However, before she took this position, she worked as a cataloger for the Law Society of England and Wales, a professional society for solicitors.  (http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/)

In her current role, some of her concerns are much different than those of academic law librarians.  The firm does not see itself as “custodians of the law” because space is at such a premium.  The firm’s London office moves frequently, and with each move there is less and less space for print materials, requiring that the lawyers who work there rely more and more on electronic resources.  The move away from print is, however, going less slowly in the firm’s offices in France and Germany.

The firm uses Liberty Softlink (https://www.softlinkint.com/product/liberty) for its EMEA central catalog, and all English-language materials are cataloged in it.  Only print materials are cataloged except for electronic textbooks; otherwise, according to Loyita, the catalog would be “too full.”  The main aim of the catalog is telling the lawyers how to find books.  They do not use a conventional classification scheme because they didn’t think it would be helpful to the lawyers; instead, they used Westlaw’s taxonomy to create a classification scheme.

Despite this fact, Loyita did spend some time during her presentation discussing England’s contribution to legal cataloging.  Elizabeth Moys, whose work in this area led to her becoming a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE, see http://royalcentral.co.uk/blogs/insight/a-guide-to-the-order-of-the-british-empire-21224 for more about this and other royal honors) for her services to classification and indexing, created the Moys classification scheme, which arranges the common law by topic and the civil law by jurisdiction.  You can read more about this system at https://special-cataloguing.com/node/1429.

Loyita ended her talk by discussing certain challenges she has faced in her work at the firm.  She has found that management difficulties arise more related to geography than language, notwithstanding the fact that she is responsible for signing off on foreign language contracts.  Also, not every office has a law librarian, which can create some library management problems.

Presentation #3:  FCIL Reference

Susan Gualtier rounded out the speakers for this program.  She began her presentation by naming several challenges that reference librarians working with FCIL materials routinely face, including:

  • Language barriers
  • Terminology
  • Translation problems
  • Unfamiliar abbreviations and citation formats
  • Unfamiliar legal systems and concepts
  • Unfamiliar legal histories and date ranges
  • Differing legal systems
  • Differing or inconsistent publication structures
  • Unfamiliar types of sources

I have several years of FCIL reference experience myself, and I completely agree with this thorough list!

Susan then expanded on some of the definitions of FCIL-related terms that George had discussed in his presentation, including private and public international law, supranational law (of which the European Union is an example), foreign law, foreign legal systems, and comparative law.  She concluded that part of the presentation by providing two examples of what she referred to as “mixed” legal systems:

  • In some systems, such as those in Louisiana and Scotland, two systems have blended together to form a single, reasonably coherent legal system.
  • However, in other jurisdictions, such as Tanzania, the laws can be at odds with each other – statutory law is used in urban areas and customary law in rural areas, as well as religious law applying to people of Islamic faith.

Susan concluded her presentation by presenting practical advice for overcoming some of the obstacles she mentioned at the beginning of her presentation.

First, she cited several resources that could provide jurisdictional background information at the beginning of a research project, including free online resources like JuriGlobe (http://www.juriglobe.ca/eng/index.php), GlobaLex (http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex//index.html), Guide to Law Online from the Law Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/law/help/guide.php), and subscription sources, such as Foreign Law Guide (http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/browse/foreign-law-guide), and the International Encyclopedia of Laws (https://ielaws.com/).

Then, she discussed translation issues, highlighting the Iowa Law Library’s Legal Interpreting and Translating Research Guide (http://libguides.law.uiowa.edu/interpretingandtranslating).

Next, she listed several sources that can be used to figure out abbreviations and citations, including the the freely-available online Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations (http://www.legalabbrevs.cardiff.ac.uk/), and several print sources: the Bluebook (https://www.legalbluebook.com/), NYU’s Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citation (https://www.amazon.com/Foreign-International-Citations-Second-Coursebook/dp/0735579792), and Prince’s Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (https://www.amazon.com/Princes-Bieber-Dictionary-Legal-Abbreviations/dp/083771625X).

Susan finished her presentation by discussing how librarians can get help by “activating the FCIL network.”  This includes the FCIL-SIS Jumpstart page (https://www.aallnet.org/fcilsis/resources-publications/research-resources/jumpstart/), the FCIL-SIS DipLawMatic Dialogues blog (https://fcilsis.wordpress.com/), and several list-servs, including Int-Law (http://listserver.ciesin.columbia.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A0=Int-Law9).

Team Cataloging Exercise

After the speakers were finished, the program attendees were divided into groups.  The program organizers specified that the groups should be diverse, and that each group should include both catalogers and reference librarians.  Then, each group was given a foreign law book for which they would create a basic catalog record.

catalogingprogram.jpg

As a reference librarian, I have basically no cataloging experience.  I even managed to avoid taking a cataloging class in library school (a choice I now regret).  But as I have become a more experienced librarian, I have appreciated cataloging more and more, and I have to say that, as the only reference librarian in my group, I had a blast during this exercise!  I loved listening to the discussion of the catalogers about what they would enter in the various fields, and really gained a deep appreciation of their knowledge, skill, and care that they put into every cataloging opportunity.  They were really patient in explaining their thinking to me, for which I was very grateful.

I consider myself lucky many times over when I think back to this exercise.  Our group happened to get a German-language book, which of course is right up my alley as I recently completed an LL.M. in German law.  The topic was conflict of laws (private international law), and specifically related to Switzerland, which actually has a federal code on this topic (see https://www.umbricht.ch/en/swiss-private-international-law-cpil/).  I also volunteered to talk about our cataloging approach to the entire group of participants when sharing time came around at the end of the program, and really enjoyed how enthusiastic everyone was about what our group had done with our book.

Final Thoughts

My takeaway: I LOVED THIS PROGRAM!  I really learned a lot and enjoyed doing it.  I would appreciate more practical programs like this at future AALL conferences, especially if they include opportunities to work with and learn from colleagues who specialize in other areas.

Kudos to the organizers of this program for ensuring that my conference ended on such a positive note!

AALL 2018 Recap: FCIL-SIS Book Club Discussion of “In the Shadow of Korematsu”

By Kate Britt

Korematsu 2.JPGFCIL-SIS members nabbed a table at the Lexis lunch to discuss In the Shadow of Korematsu: Democratic Liberties and National Security, a 2018 book by Eric Yamamoto–law professor and part of Fred Korematsu’s legal team in the 1980s.

The first major issue the Book Club seized upon was the book’s style. The writing was noted to be less than scholarly, eschewing legalese for simplicity. The author makes obvious attempts to coin his own phrases (see: “chameleonic deployment”) through repetition and italics; the effect is more silly than convincing. Additionally, the use of clunky endnotes robbed readers of valuable insights and further inquiry into the facts and claims the author makes.

In the Shadow of Korematsu appears to be written for the purpose of persuasion, but the author failed to develop potentially impactful details. The Club regretted the absence of personal stories from Korematsu and his fellow citizens about the effect of living in internment camps. Likewise, the group would have enjoyed more information about the Solicitor General’s decision to retract a statement from the case record before oral arguments. The 1944 Korematsu case and its aftermath are chock full of fascinating historical details and intricate legal arguments; ultimately the book failed to develop either aspect fully. As far as a “good read,” it is neither compelling non-fiction nor engaging legal theory.

The Book Club hypothesized that there may have been a conflict between the author and the publisher regarding who is this book’s intended audience. The publisher may be seeking a wide, general audience; the endnotes, casual writing style, and attempts to coin terms point to this purpose. On the other hand, the author brings Korematsu to the fore just as the current administration detains immigrant children at the border and institutes blanket bans on immigration from majority Muslim countries. Timing suggests that Yamamoto saw his audience as modern judges who are making decisions about U.S. policy. The lack of human-interest stories and possible rush to publication further indicate that he wanted lawmakers to consider Korematsu as an example of what not to do.

Regardless of stylistic flaws, the Book Club agreed that In the Shadow of Korematsu is nevertheless valuable in several respects. For one, it puts the entire story of Korematsu in a single volume. The Club discussed how many of us grew up thinking of the case as old history, but this book revives the reality of Japanese internment camps and their effect on modern America. The strain of racism active in Korematsu is traced to the present day.

The author warns that in times of (seeming) crisis, nothing in the jurisprudence following Korematsu would stop justices from again putting national security ahead of civil rights. Indeed, shortly after the book was published, his warning proved true when the Supreme Court disregarded statements of religious animus and upheld the travel restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 9645 in Trump v. Hawaii. Observers may have trouble reconciling the dictum in that case that disavows Korematsu with the actual holding of the Court. This book clarifies that yes, public opinion disfavors Korematsu, but the conditions which allowed Korematsu persist. The Club discussed how the (personal) opinions of Scalia and Rehnquist continue to influence legal theory and the current bench.

Book Club members expressed interest in pursuing the subject of this book beyond its pages. The experiences of interned persons are related in various podcasts and the writings of actor George Takei. It would also be interesting to see how an immigration attorney, coming from a particular perspective, would frame the case of Trump v. Hawaii.

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