Short Takes On The News: Digitizing the Vatican Library, the Good Law School Classes, and Public Privacy

The Vatican has announced that it will digitize manuscripts contained in the Vatican Library that date back to the very beginning of the Church.  Some 1.5 million pages will be digitized and placed online over the next four years.  NBC News has more details on the project.  Some of the libraries holdings were microfilmed during World War II when it was thought that Rome would be bombed.  The film now resides at St. Louis University in Missouri, of all places.

The Volokh Conspiracy asks the magic question “What law school classes have you found especially useful for your practice of law?”  There are 25 responses as of this writing and most of them identify courses such as evidence, legal writing, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, civil procedure, and other substantive classes.  No one (so far) has identified practice oriented classes such as trial advocacy or clinical experience.  Then again, no one has identified what I call the “touchy feely” classes—those that are based in legal philosophy or social sciences.

Those interested in privacy, especially in the context of filming police officers on duty in a public place might find interesting two decisions from the Illinois Supreme Court.  Illinois has criminalized such conduct with a statute deemed on of the toughest in the nation.  The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a determination that the statutes are likely unconstitutional.  See A.C.L.U. v. Alvarez, 679 F.3d 583 (7th Cir. 2012).  The Illinois Supreme Court also found the statute to be unconstitutional and an overbroad burden on speech.  This is from the summary of People v. Melongo 2014 IL 114852:

In this decision, the supreme court said that its analysis was guided by its holding in People v. Clark, 2014 IL 115776, announced on the same day as this case, in which the court held the eavesdropping statute violative of the first amendment to the United States Constitution under the overbreadth doctrine. Here, the supreme court said again that the statute is simply too broad in deeming all conversations to be private and not subject to recording absent consent, even if the participants have no expectation of privacy, and in also criminalizing the publication of those recordings. All of this burdens substantially more speech than is necessary to serve any legitimate interest in protecting conversational privacy, making the statute invalid on its face. This defendant cannot constitutionally be prosecuted for divulging the conversations she recorded.

Both Melongo and Clark were decided without dissent.  – Mark

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