15th-Century Legal Tome on Display
The special event honoring Justice Stevens also featured the display of the “Casus breves” of Johannes de Turnhout (1446-1492), a 15th-century legal reference work recently donated to the Law Library by Julie Chrystyn Opperman in honor of her husband, Dwight D. Opperman.
The rare, two-volume 1478 edition reports the observations of major 14th-century commentators on civil law. Only 13 copies of this edition—the oldest—are known to exist.
The “Casus breves” reports the observations of major 14th-century civil law commentators. Compiled by de Turnhout and other legal scholars at the University of Louvain in Belgium, the work draws from various legal authorities’ commentaries on the “Corpus juris civilis” (“Body of Civil Law”), a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence issued from 529 to 534 by Roman Emperor Justinian I. The two volumes are organized according to the original divisions or titles of the “Corpus juris civilis” and present the opinion of one commentator on each point.
Supreme Court Resources in the Library
The Library of Congress contains the nation’s largest corpus of the papers of chief justices and associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court (39 in all).
Among the chief justices, the division holds the papers of Oliver Ellsworth, John Marshall, Roger Taney, Salmon Chase, Morrison R. Waite, Melville W. Fuller, William Howard Taft, Charles Evans Hughes, Harlan Fiske Stone and Earl Warren. The Library’s collection of papers of associate justices under Chief Justice Warren (1953-1969) include Hugo L. Black, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, Harold H. Burton, Robert H. Jackson, William J. Brennan, Byron R. White, Thurgood Marshall and Arthur J. Goldberg.
In 2004, the Library opened to the public the papers of Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun—who served 1970-1994—and mounted an online presentation of selected items.
In these personal papers may be found private documents that reveal the hidden process of judicial decision-making. Because the high court carefully guards its privacy, some of this information may be found nowhere else in the world.
To serve congressional and public requests for resources pertaining to this historic nomination, the Law Library of Congress developed a web presentation on Elena Kagan on its Supreme Court Nominations site.
The site includes links to articles and books by the nominee, congressional documents, Supreme Court oral arguments and web resources. From mainstream media to new media such as blogs (and law blogs, or “blawgs”), the site offers information about Kagan as well as Supreme Court nomination hearings dating to 1971. Featured nominees include confirmed Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel A. Alito and John G. Roberts; another featured nominee is Harriet E. Miers, whose nomination was withdrawn on Oct. 27, 2005.