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Constitutional Provisions on National and Religious Identity

March 2, 2015 Comments off

Constitutional Provisions on National and Religious Identity
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report contains information on provisions in constitutions and other founding documents specifying an ethnic or religious identity for an Asian or European country. Section I covers twenty countries and includes those indicating an ethnic identity and in some cases also a religious one. Section II covers four countries for whom those documents mention only a religious identity, not an ethnic one, and whose constitutions indicate that the specified religion is the basis for legislation. Section III covers thirteen countries that specify a religion, without necessarily indicating that religion is the basis of legislation and without any single ethnic identity.

Foreign Intelligence Gathering Laws

February 27, 2015 Comments off

Foreign Intelligence Gathering Laws
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report contains information on laws regulating the collection of intelligence in the European Union, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden. The report details how EU Members States control activities of their intelligence agencies and what restrictions are imposed on information collection. All EU Member States follow EU legislation on personal data protection, which is a part of the common European Union responsibility.

Abortion Legislation in Europe

February 12, 2015 Comments off

Abortion Legislation in Europe (PDF)
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report summarizing laws on abortion in selected European countries shows diverse approaches to the regulation of abortion in Europe.

A majority of the surveyed countries allow abortion upon the woman’s request in the early weeks of pregnancy, and allow abortion under specified circumstances in later periods. Some countries impose a waiting period of a certain number of days following counseling. Some require consultation with medical personnel before an abortion may be performed. Several countries require that medical personnel certify the abortion is for a reason permitted by law. The most restrictive country surveyed here, Ireland, allows abortion only when there is a real and substantial risk to the woman’s life.

FALQs: Vaccination Law in the United States

February 10, 2015 Comments off

FALQs: Vaccination Law in the United States
Source: Law Library of Congress

United States vaccination requirements have been in the news, particularly following what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has described as “a large, ongoing multi-state outbreak linked to an amusement park in California.” As such, many questions have arisen as to the laws regarding vaccination and immunization in the United States. The answers to these questions are not as simple as one might think.

How to Trace Federal Regulations – A Research Guide

January 15, 2015 Comments off

How to Trace Federal Regulations – A Research Guide
Source: Law Library of Congress

Our patrons at the Law Library of Congress frequently ask us for assistance in investigating the origins and statutory authority of federal rules and regulations. And no wonder–regulations are important to understand, because they have the force and effect of law just as federal statutes do, though they are not issued by Congress. Instead, rules and regulations are created by a federal body such as an agency, board, or commission, and explain how that body intends to carry out or administer a federal law. In fact, these rules and regulations can often affect our everyday lives even more directly than statutes, by laying out the details of how we go about following the laws passed by Congress. This Research Guide will address the basics of how to “trace” a federal regulation, in order to not only derive its statutory authority, but also to learn more about its origins and history.

U.S. Treaties: A Beginner’s Guide

December 3, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Treaties: A Beginner’s Guide
Source: Law Library of Congress

Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that the President “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur… ” An early attempt by the President and Senate to negotiate the exercise of this power provided an interesting anecdote. According to the Senate Historical Office, on August 22, 1789, President Washington traveled to the Senate to submit a treaty concerning Native American Indian Tribes. While the President waited, the Senate decided to postpone consideration of the treaty rather than debate the questions in front of the President. According to Maclay’s Journal an irritated, President Washington exclaimed, “This defeats every purpose of my coming here!” and resolved to submit subsequent treaty communications to the Senate in writing. To learn more about the development of the treaty power and its application, please refer to the United States Constitution: Analysis and Interpretation’s discussion of Article II, Section 2.

There are several options for researchers trying to find copies of treaties to which the United States is or was a party. In fact, we were inspired to write this post by the new Treaties digital collection added to the Law Library of Congress website. As of now, the digital collection includes a digital copy of the first four volumes of Charles I. Bevans’s Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949, which includes copies of the English version (or English translation) of multilateral treaties to which the United States was a party. Digital copies of the remaining volumes (5-12), which include the bilateral treaties to which the United States was a party during this period, will be added in the near future.

New Comparative Law Report — Approval of Medical Devices

November 14, 2014 Comments off

Approval of Medical Devices (PDF)
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report describes the approval process for medical devices in the European Union and fifteen countries, and also indicates whether or not an expedited approval procedure is available. Many of the countries reference EU law, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Israel more readily approves devices with a CE mark (indicating approval in the EU) or an indication that they are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In many nations, particularly those influenced by the EU, part of the review process is conducted not by the government but by private, independent organizations called “notified bodies.” These organizations are designated by EU Member States.

In most of the countries in the survey, medical devices are categorized based on the risks associated with their use, and the approval process varies by category. For example, in the United Kingdom, manufacturers of low-risk devices may register with the government agency and simply declare that the devices meet the requirements to be approved. Devices classed as higher risk must undergo more detailed review, by a notified body.

On the question of an expedited approval process, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland permit some sort of rapid review in particular cases, often when a device is required for an individual patient and no substitute is available. Mexico has provided for more rapid approval of devices if they have already been approved in either Canada or the United States. No such procedure exists at present in Brazil, France, Israel, the Russian Federation, or the United Kingdom. The Russian Federation did have a rapid approval system in place prior to August 2014. Germany provides for temporary approval of devices in limited circumstances. South Africa is now considering draft legislation that would include expedited procedures in specified situations.

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