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Quote of the Month
It is not overstating the matter to say that Chevron has become one of a handful of decisions - along with Marbuy v. Madison, Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade - that are the material for a continuing collective meditation about the role of the courts and indeed of the law itself in the governance of our society.
~Thomas W Merrill, Columbia Law School
News of the Month
Now that abortion is restricted and affirmative action is hobbled, the conservative legal movement has set its sights on a third precedent: Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council (1984). It has been nearly 40 years since the US Supreme Court indicated in Chevron that courts should defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of an ambiguous statute. (Deference, or judicial deference, is a principle of judicial review in which a federal court yields to an agency's interpretation of a statute or regulation. The US Supreme Court has developed several forms of deference in reviewing federal agency actions, including Chevron deference, Skidmore deference and Auer deference.) The Chevron test established a simple approach to a traditionally complicated issue in administrative law by establishing what one judge called the Chevron two-step. A court first decides whether a statute resolves the specific issue in question or is silent or ambiguous with respect to the issue. If it is determined that the statute is silent or ambiguous, the court then affirms whether the agency's interpretation of the statute is "reasonable."
The decision, one of the most cited in American law but largely unknown to the public, bolstered the power of executive agencies that regulate the environment, the marketplace, the work force, the airwaves, health care, government programs and countless other aspects of modern life. However, after more than three-and-a-half hours of oral arguments this past January, it seems unlikely that the Chevron doctrine, will survive in its current form. A majority of the current Supreme Court Justices seem ready to jettison the doctrine or at the very least significantly limit it. Overturning it has been a key goal of the right for a number of years, part of an effort to demolish the administrative state. The Court’s ruling could have ripple effects across the federal government, where agencies frequently use highly trained experts to interpret and implement federal laws. A decision this year rejecting Chevron would threaten regulations covering - just for starters - health care, consumer safety, government benefit programs, gun laws and climate change. The January arguments divided the Justices along the usual lines and signaled that the Court’s conservative majority was prepared to limit or even eliminate the precedent.
Congress routinely writes open-ended, ambiguous laws that leave the policy details to agency officials. Chevron established the principle that courts must defer to agencies’ reasonable interpretations of ambiguous statutes. The theory is that agencies have more expertise than judges, are more accountable to voters (via presidential elections) and are better able to establish uniform national policies. “Judges are not experts in the field, and are not part of either political branch of the government,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in 1984 for a unanimous Court. Stevens later said of the opinion, which was easily his most influential, that it was “simply a restatement of existing law.” The decision was not much noted when it was issued. “If Chevron amounted to a revolution, it seems almost everyone missed it,” Justice Neil Gorsuch, the harshest critic of the doctrine on the current Court, wrote in 2022, saying that courts had read it too broadly.
At first, conservatives believed that empowering agencies would constrain liberal judges. “In the long run Chevron will endure and be given its full scope,” Justice Antonin Scalia, a revered conservative figure, wrote in a law review article in 1989, adding that this was so “because it more accurately reflects the reality of government.” The Reagan administration, which had interpreted the Clean Air Act to allow looser regulations of emissions, celebrated the decision. Justice Stevens, rejecting a challenge from environmental groups, wrote that the Environmental Protection Agency’s reading of the statute was “a reasonable construction” that was “entitled to deference.” During the January arguments, Justice Samuel Alito, who is likely to vote to overrule the decision, expressed puzzlement about its history. “Chevron was initially popular,” he said. It was seen as “an improvement because it would take judges out of the business of making what were essentially policy decisions. Now, were they wrong then?”
If conservatives originally celebrated Chevron, what accounts for its current place on the conservative hit list? After all, as the case itself demonstrates, it requires deference to agency interpretations under both Republican and Democratic administrations. The answers are practical, cultural and philosophical. Chevron has led to numerous battles - for instance, over how far the EPA can go to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act and how far the FCC can go in mandating net neutrality. Business groups on the whole remain hostile to regulation and Chevron has become a target for industries pushing a deregulatory agenda. Many conservatives have come to believe that executive agencies are dominated by liberals under both parties’ administrations - the so-called deep state. Around the second term of the Obama administration, the notion of overturning Chevron deference as a way to cut back on agencies’ ability to carry out federal law grew in popularity. Some on the right have become hostile to the very idea of expertise. But the attack on Chevron in January was mostly fought on the idea of the separation of powers (which branch - courts or executive agencies - should fill in gaps in congressionally enacted statutes), with conservative Justices insisting that courts rather than agencies must determine the meaning of ambiguous statutes.
The plea to overturn the Chevron doctrine came to the Court in two cases challenging a rule (issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service) that requires the herring industry to bear the costs of observers on fishing boats to prevent overfishing. The plaintiffs are backed by other industry groups ranging from Gun Owners of America to e-cigarette manufacturers. Applying Chevron, both the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the US Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit upheld the rule, finding it to be a reasonable interpretation of federal law. The first case is Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, a dispute rooted in the financial intricacies of a federal fisheries law. Under Chevron, lower courts upheld the decision requiring fishing companies to bear the cost of mandatory independent monitors but the case has now become emblematic of a broader ideological battle over the extent of bureaucratic power in interpreting laws. Loper asks the Justices to weigh in on the rule itself but also to overturn Chevron. Roman Martinez, representing the first group of fishing vessels, told the Justices that the Chevron doctrine undermines the duty of courts to say what the law is and violates the federal law governing administrative agencies, which similarly requires courts to undertake a fresh review of legal questions. Under the Chevron doctrine, he observed, even if all nine Supreme Court Justices agree that the fishing vessels’ interpretation of federal fishing law is better than the NMFS’s interpretation, they would still be required to defer to the agency’s interpretation as long as it was reasonable. Such a result, Martinez concluded, is “not consistent with the rule of law.”
Arguing on behalf of the second group of fishing vessels (Relentless v. Department of Commerce), Paul Clement echoed Martinez’s points. Emphasizing that his clients’ case “well illustrates the real world costs of the Chevron” doctrine for small businesses, he decried the doctrine as “hopelessly ambiguous” and “reliance destroying.” The question in this challenge to the rule, he said should focus on what the best reading of the statute is. Representing the Biden administration, US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar urged the Justices to leave the Chevron doctrine in place, telling them that it has “deep roots in this Court’s jurisprudence.” Under the doctrine of stare decisis - the idea that courts should generally adhere to their prior decisions - the Court would need a “truly extraordinary justification” to overrule it, which the challengers do not have, she asserted. (The recording of the oral argument and transcript in Relentless are available, respectively, here and here. The recording of the oral argument and transcript in Loper are available, respectively, here and here.)
The arguments for overturning Chevron are centered on increasing judicial accountability and curbing what some see as unchecked regulatory power. Some conservative judges believe courts must decide what laws mean without giving decisive weight to agencies’ views, saying most of the time these administrative law cases boil down to statutory interpretation, which is the expertise of judges, not the expertise of executive agencies. Critics of Chevron suggest this could lead to more consistent legal interpretations and less fluctuation in policies with changing administrations. Chevron’s opponents, including business groups hostile to what they see as overregulation, say that it is the role of courts, not executive agencies, to determine the meanings of statutes. But, although the end of Chevron may result in more consistent agency policy from one administration to the next, it will also produce more (perhaps much more) variation in lower courts’ handling of agency cases. In this respect, then, the death of Chevron could mean greater uncertainty for regulated entities. Supporters of the Chevron doctrine say it allows specialized agencies to fill in gaps in ambiguous statutes and to establish uniform rules in their areas of expertise, a practice they say is understood by Congress. Congress is already empowered to apply oversight of the federal bureaucracy because of its power to control funding and approve presidential appointments. Executive agencies submit annual summaries of their activities and budgets. Congressional committees are the primary venue for oversight and they hold hearings at which agencies are questioned and asked to provide information. Congressional committees conduct investigations and hold much of the responsibility for authorizing the activities and budgets of agencies. In conducting oversight, Congress investigates whether agencies have made policy decisions in a manner consistent with its interpretation of existing law. If Congress believes that agency decisions have violated its policy priorities, it can consult with agency personnel to alter their policy making decisions to converge with Congress’ favored positions. Oversight, then, allows Congress the opportunity to monitor and influence agency policy decisions. Perhaps Congress’s most powerful oversight tool is the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an agency that provides Congress, its committees and the heads of the executive agencies with auditing, evaluation and investigative services. It is designed to operate in a fact-based and nonpartisan manner to deliver important oversight information where and when it is needed.
If Chevron is overturned, it could force a total overhaul of how industries are regulated in the US - taking power away from federal agencies and placing much more responsibility on federal courts. It could lead to a regulatory environment mired in legal challenges and uncertainty, hampering timely responses to public problems and crises. Chevron doesn’t matter much to the Supreme Court, which largely ignores it. But it does matter to the lower courts, which continue to use its two-step test to manage a flood of litigation challenging agency interpretations of every kind, from the most general to the most intricate. Roughly 17,000 lower court decisions have relied on Chevron since its inception in 1984, and they continue to do so regularly. A 2022 study surveying courts of appeals cases from 2020-2021 found that federal appellate courts continue to apply Chevron in nearly 85% of cases in which an agency interpretation is at stake. In approximately 60% of these cases, the court concluded that the statute was ambiguous (Chevron step one) and proceeded to determine whether the agency’s interpretation was reasonable (Chevron step two). According to the study, once courts of appeals reached this point in the Chevron framework, they sided with the agency 77% of the time. An earlier 2017 study that evaluated more than 1,300 courts of appeals cases from 2003 to 2013 found an even higher rate of deference to agencies’ positions - roughly 94% - at Chevron step two. In short, even if the Supreme Court has already stopped using Chevron, lower courts haven’t. A decision expressly invalidating the doctrine would therefore have a major impact in the lower courts.
Without Chevron, federal judges will get bogged down in intricate questions of statutory interpretation which require scientific, economic or technological expertise. Policy choices that are better suited to agencies with research and information-gathering capacity, and obligations to consult stakeholders, will increasingly be made by federal judges, who have none of their expertise and do none of those things. And the courts will then suddenly become policymakers. For companies with the resources to challenge agency decision-making, the potential to overturn an unpopular agency decision would substantially increase, and the additional time it takes to obtain a decision could provide substantial competitive benefits. Agencies would likely compensate in their decision-making by increasing the amount of evidence used to support a decision or to take enforcement action, thus making them more risk averse and increasing the cost and time for any regulatory and enforcement decisions. Agency morale could be undermined, with regulators’ expertise and decisions second-guessed and criticized. The effects on agencies would transform the US administrative and regulatory landscape in diverse and unexpected ways.
A complete overturning of Chevron isn’t the only possible outcome. The Supreme Court could opt for a nuanced approach, modifying rather than eliminating the doctrine. This could involve setting more explicit criteria for when deference is warranted, thereby balancing the need for agency expertise in law interpretation with the concerns of unchecked administrative power. During the January arguments, US Solicitor General Prelogar told the Justices that the Court could “clarify and articulate the limits of Chevron deference without taking the drastic step of upending decades of settled precedent.” For example, she said, the Justices could “reemphasize” that, in determining whether the statute is clear, courts should use all of the interpretative tools at their disposal and not “give up just because the statute is dense or hard to parse.” If the statute is still determined to be ambiguous, she said, the question of whether it is reasonable should be “obviously deferential” but “not just anything goes.” The Court could hold that silence in a statute does not constitute ambiguity for the purposes of the first prong of the test. Such a holding would require Congress in future laws or legislative amendments to explicitly delegate authority over an issue to an administrative agency, saying that the agency can't act until Congress does. Obviously, though, it would be impossible for even a unified Congress to address every ambiguity in every statute.
The Supreme Court’s decision on the Chevron doctrine is more than a legal debate. It’s a pivotal moment. Overruling or significantly weakening Chevron could disrupt the delicate balance between regulatory effectiveness and bureaucratic overreach, with dire consequences. Such a ruling would make it easier to challenge regulations across a gamut of issues - keeping the air and water clean; ensuring that food, drugs, cars and consumer products are safe; and much more. In an era where issues such as health care, government benefit programs and climate change are at the forefront of public concern, the Supreme Court’s decision to revisit the Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council ruling sends a worrying signal. Since 1984, the Chevron doctrine has been a linchpin in empowering agencies like the EPA to interpret and enforce complex environmental laws. Its potential overruling could mark a significant setback for environmental governance and public health. Removing Chevron risks crippling the ability of agencies to effectively enforce environmental regulations. Overturning the Chevron doctrine could put dozens of existing environmental regulations on air, water and chemical pollution at risk ... and it could profoundly weaken the federal government’s authority to impose new regulations to limit climate change and to ban the use of asbestos and other toxins.
Health experts say a rollback of Chevron could also hinder the administration of government insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid that cover tens of millions of people, public health protections and scientific advancement. Federal health agencies have the subject matter expertise and the ability to deal with a range of complex issues in a timely way that Congress simply does not. The resulting uncertainty would be extraordinarily destabilizing, not just to the Medicare and Medicaid programs but also - given the size of these programs - to the operational and financial stability of the country's health care system as a whole.
Love it or hate it, the administrative state (which took its shape as part of FDR’s New Deal) is the primary way modern American society imposes rules on businesses: Such regulations can cut into the profits of individual business owners but they are aimed at broadly helping society. Congress creates agencies staffed by technical experts to study various types of problems and empowers them to issue legally binding regulations. Too, when congressional gridlock is a major barrier to passing legislation, it often falls on federal agencies to take action. Overturning Chevron could threaten regulations on the environment, health care, consumer safety, nuclear energy, government benefit programs and a wide range of regulations that affect the American society. As such, the Supreme Court’s Chevron decision warrants close public scrutiny and proactive engagement, underscoring the doctrine’s critical role in safeguarding America’s future.
Then and Now
February is Black History Month.
February is American Heart Month.
02/01/1790 - In the Royal Exchange Building on New York City’s Broad Street, the US Supreme Court met for the first time, with Chief Justice John Jay of New York presiding.
02/01/1861 - Texas voted to secede from the Union.
02/01/1920 - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police began operations.
02/01/2003 - NASA's Columbia exploded over east Texas on reentry.
02/01/2024 - National Freedom Day
02/01/2024 - Imbolc/Oimelc begins this evening and ends tomorrow evening – Wicca, Celtic
02/02/1536 - Pedro de Mendoza of Spain founded Buenos Aires.
02/02/1653 - New Amsterdam - now New York - was incorporated.
02/02/1848 - The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican War, was signed.
02/02/1971 - Idi Amin assumed power in Uganda.
02/02/2024 - Groundhog Day
02/02/2024 - Candlemas – Christian
02/03/1690 - The colony of Massachusetts issued the first paper money in America to pay soldiers fighting in the war against Quebec. (It probably wasn't worth much more than it is now ... which is probably why they paid soldiers with it.)
02/03/1913 - The US ratified the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, providing for a federal income tax.
02/03/1959 - A plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, claimed the lives of rock-and-roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson.
02/03/2005 - Alberto Gonzales won Senate confirmation as the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general despite protests over his record on torture.
02/03/2024 - Setsubun (Bean Scattering) – Shinto
02/04/1783 - Britain declared a formal cessation of hostilities with its former colony, the United States of America.
02/04/1789 - Electors unanimously chose George Washington to be the first US President.
02/04/1801 - John Marshall became chief justice of the US Supreme Court.
02/04/1861 - Delegates from six southern states met in Montgomery AL to form the Confederate States of America.
02/04/1938 - Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
02/04/1945 - The Yalta Conference: Leaders of the Big Three WWII allies - Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin Roosevelt - met at a Crimean resort at Yalta in Ukraine. Among the issues that were discussed was the fate of Germany after its defeat in the war.
02/04/1962 - The Soviet Union's news agency Pravda claimed the Russians invented baseball.
02/04/1974 - Members of the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst was from her apartment in Berkeley CA.
02/04/2004 - Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerberg launched The Facebook, a social media website he had built in order to connect Harvard students with one another.
02/04/2024 - Rosa Parks Day
02/05/1631 - Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, and his wife arrived in Boston from England.
02/05/1917 - Congress passed, over President Wilson's veto, an immigration act severely curtailing the influx of Asians.
02/05/1917 - Mexico adopted its constitution.
02/05/1937 - President Franklin Roosevelt proposed increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court. Critics accused Roosevelt of attempting to "pack" the high court.
02/06/1820 - The first organized immigration of freed enslaved people to Africa from the US departed New York harbor on a journey to Freetown, Sierra Leone, in West Africa.
02/06/1937 - John Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men, the story of the bond between two migrant workers, was published.
02/06/1952 - Britain's King George VI died. His daughter, Elizabeth II, succeeded him.
02/06/1959 - The US successfully test-fired for the first time a Titan intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from Cape Canaveral FL.
02/06/2001 - Israel elected Ariel Sharon as prime minister in a landslide victory over Ehud Barak.
02/06/2024 - Lailat al Miraj (The Prophet's Night Journey to Jerusalem and Ascension) begins at sunset – Muslim
02/06/2024 - Isra and Mi'raj begins at sunset and ends tomorrow evening – Muslim
02/07/1936 - FDR authorized a flag for the office of the vice president.
02/07/1940 - Walt Disney's Pinocchio had its world premiere.
02/07/1964 - The Beatles began their first American tour, arriving in NY.
02/07/1986 - Haitian President-for-Life Jean Claude Duvalier fled his country ending 28 years of Duvalier rule.
02/07/1992 - After suffering through centuries of bloody conflict, the nations of Western Europe finally united in the spirit of economic cooperation with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty of European Union. The treaty called for greater economic integration, common foreign and security policies and cooperation between police and other authorities on crime, terrorism and immigration issues.
02/08/1922 - President Harding had a radio installed in the White House.
02/08/1924 - The first execution by gas in the US took place at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City.
02/08/1943 - The WWII battle of Guadalcanal in the southwest Pacific ended with an American victory over Japanese forces.
02/08/1978 - Radio broadcast the deliberations of the Senate for the first time as members opened debate on the Panama Canal treaties.
02/08/2024 - The US Supreme Court will hear arguments and review a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court (Anderson v. Griswold 2023) that Donald Trump could be barred from the Republican presidential primary ballot in that state. The Colorado ruling is on hold (and Trump is still on the ballot) until the SCOTUS ruling.
02/09/1825 - The House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams president after no candidate received a majority of the electoral votes.
02/09/1861 - The Provisional Congress of the Confederate States of America elected Jefferson David president and Alexander Stephens vice president.
02/09/1870 - The US Weather Bureau was established.
02/09/1942 - Daylight saving time instituted.
02/09/1950 - McCarthyism and the Red Scare: In a speech in WV, Senator Joseph McCarthy (R, WI) claimed he had a list of individuals in the US government who were known communists. His claims of widespread infiltration of communists and communist sympathizers in the US government led to nationwide investigations. McCarthy was ultimately discredited and censured by the US Senate in December, 1954.
02/09/1964 - The Beatles made their first live American TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS.
02/09/1971 - The Apollo 14 returned to earth after man's third landing on the moon.
02/10/1763 - The Treaty of Paris was signed between Britain, France and Spain marking the end of The French and Indian War. In the treaty, France gave up most of its territory in North America to Britain and Spain. With less colonial competition in the New World, the victory allowed Britain to have a greater influence in North America. This war also was a precursor to the American Revolution.
02/10/1846 - Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Mormons, began an exodus to the west from Illinois.
02/10/1949 - Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman opened on Broadway.
02/10/1967 - The 25th Amendment to the Constitution, dealing with presidential disability and succession, went into effect.
02/11/1812 - Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed a redistricting law favoring his party ... giving rise to the term "gerrymandering."
02/11/1945 - FDR, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin signed the Yalta agreement.
02/11/1979 - Followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power in Iran.
02/11/1983 - Janet Reno became the first female attorney general.
02/11/1990 - South Africa freed black activist Nelson Mandela after 27 years in captivity.
02/11/2024 - Super Bowl Sunday
02/12/1733 - English colonists led by James Oglethorpe founded Savannah GA.
02/12/1909 - The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded.
02/12/1912 - Hsian-T’ung, six years old and the last emperor of China, was forced to abdicate following Sun Yat-sen’s republican revolution. A provisional government was established in his place, ending 267 years of Manchu rule in China and 2,000 years of imperial rule.
02/12/1915 - The US House of Representatives rejected a proposal to give women the right to vote.
02/12/1932 - Mrs. Hattie Caraway became the first woman elected to the US Senate.
02/12/1966 - Adam West premiered as Batman in the US.
02/12/2024 - Academic Freedom Day (Charles Darwin’s birthday)
02/13/1633 - Italian philosopher, astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome to face charges of heresy for advocating Copernican theory, which holds that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Galileo officially faced the Roman Inquisition in April of that same year and agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. Put under house arrest indefinitely by Pope Urban VIII, Galileo spent the rest of his days at his villa in Arcetri, near Florence.
02/13/1635 - America's oldest public school, the Boston Public Latin School, was founded.
02/13/1795 - The University of North Carolina became the first US state university to admit students. The first was Hinton James, who was the only student on campus for two weeks.
02/13/1920 - The League of Nations recognized the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland.
02/13/1960 - France exploded its first atomic bomb.
02/13/2024 - Mardi Gras / Carnival / Fat Tuesday / Shrove Tuesday
02/14/1778 - The American ship Ranger carried the recently adopted Stars and Stripes to a foreign port for the first time as it arrived in France.
02/14/1918 - Tarzan of the Apes was released for the first time. There were a number of protests since people reasoned that Tarzan was living in sin with Jane without the benefit of matrimony.
02/14/1920 - The League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago.
02/14/1931 - The movie Dracula was released, with Bela Lugosi as the Count.
02/14/1945 - Peru, Paraguay, Chile and Ecuador joined the UN.
02/14/1989 - Iran's Ayatollah put out a $1 million bounty for Salman Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses, considered blasphemous by members of the Islamic community.
02/14/2024 - Valentine's Day
02/14/2024 - Vasant Panchami – Hindu
02/14/2024 - Ash Wednesday, Beginning of Lent – Christian
02/15/1564 - Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa.
02/15/1764 - The city of St. Louis was established.
02/15/1879 - President Hayes signed a bill allowing female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court.
02/15/1898 - The US battleship Maine mysteriously blew up in Havana Harbor, killing more than 260 crew members and bringing the US closer to war with Spain.
02/15/1903 - Toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom placed two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as Teddy bears. Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, Teddy. The president agreed and, before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom’s stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution.
02/15/1950 - Disney released the movie Cinderella.
02/15/1989 - The Soviet Union announced that the last of its troops had left Afghanistan, after more than nine years of military intervention.
02/15/2024 - Susan B. Anthony Day
02/15/2024 - Parinirvana – Buddhist
02/16/1959 - Fidel Castro became premier of Cuba after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista.
02/16/1968 - Haleyville AL began the first 911 emergency telephone system in the nation.
02/17/1801 - The House of Representatives broke an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, electing Jefferson president and Burr vice president.
02/17/1817 - A street in Baltimore became the first lit with gas from America's first gas company.
02/17/1897 - The forerunner of the National PTA, the National Congress of Mothers, was founded in Washington.
02/17/1947 - The Voice of American began broadcasting to the Soviet Union.
02/17/1964 - The Supreme Court ruled that congressional districts within each state had to be roughly equal in population.
02/18/1861 - The Confederate States of America swore in Jefferson Davis as president.
02/18/1885 - Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published for the first time.
02/18/1930 - The ninth planet of our solar system, Pluto, was discovered.
02/18/1985 - Jonathan Isaac Horsky Glenn was born in Mansfield OH.
02/19/1846 - The Texas state government was formally installed in Austin.
02/19/1942 - President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, giving the military the authority to relocate and intern Japanese-Americans as well as Japanese nationals living in the US.
02/19/1945 - The US Marines landed on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima as part of a larger strategy to close in on the mainland of Japan. The operation to capture this island from the Japanese Imperial Army went on for over 5 weeks. In the end, the US had more than 20,000 casualties, including almost 7,000 deaths. Approximately 18,000 Japanese soldiers were killed.
02/19/1963 - The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan, was published. It is considered one of the most influential non-fiction books of the 20th century, and was a major inspiration for the modern feminist movement in the US. The book identified a "problem that has no name," the widespread discontent and frustration of American women in the 1950s and early 1960s due to society's limiting expectations rooted in traditional gender roles.
02/19/2024 - Presidents Day
02/20/1792 - President Washington signed an act creating the US Post Office.
02/20/1809 - The Supreme Court ruled the power of the federal government is greater than that of any individual state. (It's been downhill ever since.)
02/20/1839 - Congress prohibited dueling in the District of Columbia.
02/20/1962 - Astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, flying aboard Friendship Seven.
02/21/1848 - The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx with the assistance of Friedrich Engels, was published in London by a group of German-born revolutionary socialists known as the Communist League. The political pamphlet, arguably the most influential in history, proclaimed that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” and that the inevitable victory of the proletariat, or working class, would put an end to class society forever.
02/21/1878 - The first telephone directory was issued.
02/21/1965 - Former Black Muslim leader Malcolm X was shot to death in New York.
02/21/1972 - President Nixon began his historic visit to China.
02/22/1819 - Spain ceded Florida to the US.
02/22/1879 - Frank Woolworth opened a 5-cent store in Utica NY.
02/22/1924 - Calvin Coolidge delivered the first presidential radio broadcast from the White House.
02/22/1935 - It became illegal for airplanes to fly over the White House.
02/22/1980 - The US Olympic hockey team upset the Soviets 4-3 and went on to win the gold medal.
02/23/1836 - The siege of the Alamo began in San Antonio.
02/23/1945 - US Marines on Iwo Jima captured Mount Suribachi where they raised the American flag.
02/23/1997 - Scientists in Scotland announced they had succeeded in cloning an adult sheep producing a lamb named Dolly.
02/24/1868 - The House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson following his attempted dismissal of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The Senate acquitted him.
02/24/1903 - The US signed an agreement acquiring a naval station at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
02/24/1920 - A fledgling German political party - the Nazi Party - held its first meeting in Munich. Its chief spokesman was Adolf Hitler.
02/24/1942 - The Voice of America went on the air for the first time.
02/24/1980 - The US hockey team defeated Finland, 4-2, to clinch the gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games.
02/24/2024 - Magha Puja / Sangha Day – Buddhist
02/25/1570 - Pope Pius V excommunicated England's Queen Elizabeth I.
02/25/1793 - The department heads of the US government met with President Washington in the first Cabinet meeting.
02/25/1836 - Inventor Samuel Colt patented his revolver.
02/25/1913 - Secretary of State Philander C. Knox declared the 16th amendment ratified, allowing Congress to levy and collect income taxes.
02/25/1964 - Young Muhammad Ali knockrf out Sonny Liston for first world title.
02/25/2024 - Norriture Rituelle des sources têt d' l'eau – Vodún
02/26/1919 - Congress established Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
02/26/1940 - The US Air Defense Command was created.
02/26/1951 - The US ratified 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, limiting a president to two terms of office.
02/26/1952 - Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that Britain had developed its own atomic bomb.
02/26/1993 - A bomb built by a group of Islamic extremists exploded in the parking garage of NY's World Trade Center, killing 6 people and injuring more than 1,000 others.
02/27/1801 - The District of Columbia was placed under the jurisdiction of Congress.
02/27/1922 - The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that guaranteed the right of women to vote.
02/25/2024 - Peace Corps Week begins
02/28/1827 - The first US railroad chartered to carry passengers and freight, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, was incorporated.
02/28/1854 - Around 50 people opposed to slavery met at a schoolhouse in Ripon WI, to call for a new political organization. The group would later take the name of the Republican Party.
02/28/1863 - President Lincoln signed the first military draft law in the US. Rich people could opt out if they paid $300.
02/28/1953 - Scientists James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.
02/28/1979 - Mr. Ed, TV's talking horse, died.
02/28/1993 - Branch Davidian Standoff: Local and national law enforcement arrived at the Branch Davidian compound at Mt. Carmel, just outside of Waco TX, with a warrant to search the facility for illegal weapons. Upon their arrival, they engaged in a firefight with the Branch Davidians. 76 people inside the compound were killed, including the group's leader, David Koresh. Several law enforcement officers also died and others were injured.
02/29/1504 - Christopher Columbus, stranded in Jamaica during his fourth voyage to the West, used a correctly predicted lunar eclipse to frighten hostile natives into providing food for his crew.
Online Resource Links
How Wobbly Is Our Democracy? | The American Abyss | US is polarizing faster than other democracies. | The Ballad of Downward Mobility | A Crisis Coming … The Twin Threats To American Democracy: (1) A Growing Movement to Refuse to Accept Defeat in an Election and (2) Policy and Election Results that Are Increasingly Less Connected to What the Public Wants | America’s Surprising Partisan Divide on Life Expectancy | ‘Freedom’ Means Something Different to Liberals and Conservatives. Here’s How the Definition Split - and Why That Still Matters.| Politics is personal. | For elites, politics is driven by ideology. For voters, it’s not. | Trust and Distrust in America | One America is thriving; the other is stagnating. How long can this go on? | America Is Growing Apart, Possibly for Good - The great “convergence” of the mid-20th century may have been an anomaly. | Are we really facing a second Civil War? | How ‘Stop the Steal’ Captured the American Right | Conspiracy theorists want to run America’s elections. These are the candidates standing in their way. | Two Americas Index: Democracy deniers | Where will this political violence lead? Look to the 1850s. | American Democracy Was Never Designed to Be Democratic | Yes, the economy is important, but we found that election subversion attempts appear to matter more to voters than polling suggests. | Donald Trump’s 2024 Campaign, in His Own Menacing Words | A Warning | We Are in a Five-Alarm Fire for Democracy | According to Freedom House, the US, whose aggregate score for political rights and civil liberties fell 11 points between 2010 and 2020, now falls near the middle of the free spectrum, behind Slovenia, Croatia and Mongolia.
Visualizing the State of Global Debt, by Country: The debt-to-GDP ratio is a simple metric that compares a country’s public debt to its economic output. By comparing how much a country owes and how much it produces in a year, economists can measure a country’s theoretical ability to pay off its debt. The World Bank published a study showing that countries that maintained a debt-to-GDP ratio of over 77% for prolonged periods of time experienced economic slowdowns.
What ISIS Really Wants: The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy and for how to stop it | ISIS Claims Responsibility, Calling Paris Attacks First of the Storm | Syria Iraq: The Islamic State Militant Group | Isis: The Inside Story | Frontline: The Rise of ISIS | Council on Foreign Relations: A Primer on ISIS | Cracks in ISIS Are Becoming More Clear | How ISIS’ Attacks Harm the Middle East | Timeline: the Rise, Spread and Fall of the Islamic State
Keeping the Shi'ites Straight Based on the opinion that no story has been more confusing for the Western news media to cover in postwar Iraq than the politics of the country's Shi'ite majority, this article provides a basic outline of Shi'ite religious history. Discusses the Sadr family (Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, and Muqtada as-Sadr), Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim and other figures.
Check out Today's Front Pages. Each day, you can see the front pages of more than 800 newspapers from around the world in their original, unedited form.
PBS's 30 Second Candidate allows you to view more political ads than you ever knew existed. Choose the Historical Timeline link to see how political ads have changed over the years. Start with the infamous Daisy Ad that Lyndon Johnson used against Barry Goldwater. Click on Watch Johnson ads. Then click on either the QuickTime link or the Real Video link next to Daisy.
Check out the Political Compass. The site does a good job of explaining political ideologies (although with definitions different from those I use) and gives you a chance to discover your own political philosophy.
Law Library of Congress: North Korea: Collection of links to websites on North Korean government, politics and law. Includes legal guides, country studies and links to constitutions and branches of government (where available). Council on Foreign Relations: North Korea: Background, articles and opinion pieces about North Korea government and politics. Many of the articles focus on North Korea's nuclear program. From the Council on Foreign Relations, "an independent membership organization and a nonpartisan think tank and publisher."
State of the Union (SOTU): The site uses an interactive timeline to provide a visual representation of prominent words in presidential State of the Union addresses by displaying significant words as "determined by comparing how frequently the word occurs in the document to how frequently it appears throughout the entire body of SOTU addresses." The Appendices section describes the statistical methods used. Also includes the full text of addresses.
Small Town Papers: This site provides access to scanned images of recent issues of dozens of small town newspapers from throughout the United States. Newspapers are updated periodically, 2-3 weeks after publication. The site also includes a searchable archive (of articles, photos and advertisements), which covers different periods for each paper, some as far back as the 1890s. Access to the archives requires free registration.
This website serves as a centralized location to learn about the Congressional Research Service and search for CRS reports that have been released to the public by members of Congress. (CRS Reports do not become public until a member of Congress releases the report.) Features a searchable database with more than 8,000 reports, a list of recently released reports, other collections of CRS reports and a FAQ about CRS.
Instances of the Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798 - 2020: This report lists hundreds of instances in which the United States has used its armed forces abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes. It was compiled in part from various older lists and is intended primarily to provide a rough survey of past US military ventures abroad, without reference to the magnitude of the given instance noted. | Here's How Bad a Nuclear War Would Actually Be | This is What It’s Like to Witness a Nuclear Explosion
This commercial site presents brief information about dozens of Black Inventors from the United States. Some entries include portraits and images. Also includes a searchable timeline covering 1721-1988. Does not include bibliographic information.
Annenberg Political Fact Check: This site describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit, consumer advocate for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in US politics. The site provides original articles, with summaries and sources, analyzing factual accuracy in TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Searchable. From the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.
The State of State and Local Finances: New studies afford a state-by-state or city-by-city analysis of fiscal well being. The Year of Living Dangerously: While leaders in a growing number of states appear to believe they're serving the public good by squeezing government dry, there's little question that minimizing management carries a host of dangers that directly affect the lives of citizens.
First Amendment Library: Provides info on Supreme Court First Amendment jurisprudence, including rulings, arguments, briefs, historical material, commentary and press coverage.
If you need a presentation or workshop for your group,
or the link at the top of the page.