The “Gerry” in Gerrymandering

Today's post comes from James Worsham, editor of publications for the National Archives. The U.S. Supreme Court this week decided not to get involved in whether certain legislative and congressional districts have been “gerrymandered”—a practice that dates to the early days of the country. The cases before the court involved a practice in which districts … Continue reading The “Gerry” in Gerrymandering

Honoring Justice Thurgood Marshall: the right man and the right place

On June 13, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall to be the first African American justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. After graduating from Howard University Law School in 1933, Marshall worked in private practice in his home town, Baltimore. In one of his earliest cases, he represented the local … Continue reading Honoring Justice Thurgood Marshall: the right man and the right place

Featured Document: A Right to a Fair Trial

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), is the landmark the Supreme Court decision that requires states to provide defense attorneys for criminal defendants who can’t afford them. The case centers on Clarence Earl Gideon, a poor drifter with an eighth-grade education. Gideon was arrested in 1961 for allegedly breaking into pool hall and stealing money and alcohol. … Continue reading Featured Document: A Right to a Fair Trial

On Exhibit: The Judiciary Act of 1789

Continuing our celebration of the 225th Anniversary of the First Congress the National Archives is displaying the original Judiciary Act of 1789. For three months beginning September 17, 2014, you can see the landmark piece of legislation in the Rubenstein Gallery at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Article III of the U.S. Constitution established the Supreme … Continue reading On Exhibit: The Judiciary Act of 1789

Records of Rights Vote: “Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote”

Cast your vote for the 26th Amendment to be displayed first in the new “Records of Rights” gallery. Polls close on November 15! Congress can move quickly. The 26th Amendment was ratified in 100 days, faster than any other amendment. In April 1970, Congress controversially lowered the voting age to 18 as part of legislation to … Continue reading Records of Rights Vote: “Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote”

Amending the Constitution: 100 Days to 200 Years

The Constitution hasn’t changed much since it was adopted in 1787. However, it has been tweaked by 27 amendments—some were ratified in a few months, another took more than two centuries. The ink on the Constitution had barely dried in 1787 when people discovered what it did not say. It did not spell out adequately, … Continue reading Amending the Constitution: 100 Days to 200 Years

Eight myths about the Constitution

Constitution Day is September 17. We've got events, programs, and activities at National Archives locations across the United States. Pundits, candidates, and party activists like to cite the Constitution of the United States as the moral and legal backing for whatever they’re proposing. Or they say that something an opponent proposes is unconstitutional. But the … Continue reading Eight myths about the Constitution

160,000 pages to go

Whenever a member of the Supreme Court announces retirement, and another citizen is nominated to replace one of the most important seats in government, the National Archives gets busy. The nomination of Elena Kagan is no exception. The Clinton Presidential Library has over 160,000 pages of Kagan’s documents to sort through and provide to the … Continue reading 160,000 pages to go