Author Spotlight Kumar Percy Jayasuriya

Author's Spotlight Ben Boron

This week, we feature Kumar Percy Jayasuriya, Head Librarian and Manager of Research Services at Ober Kaler. He is the author of Documentary History of the Legal Aspects of Abortion: Carhart v. Gonzales and Planned Parenthood v. Gonzales.

Guest Post:

A Law Librarian Bringing Some Order to Society and Its Discontents

Law school taught me that a full understanding of the law requires an investigation into the social issues behind the legal rules, and library school taught me that law school doesn’t prepare lawyers to conduct that research.

I liked library school. There, I said it. Library school provided me with the theory and skills I needed to organize valuable information into a format that researchers can use. Let me give you an example of a publishing project in which I used both my law and library skills.

Reproductive Rights Litigation

While my constitutional law class was studying the law of reproductive rights, my law school professor asked us to determine what the Supreme Court justices who decided Roe v. Wade knew about abortion practices. We reviewed the amicus briefs submitted to the Court by organizations interested in the Roe litigation. It was invaluable to understand the social and historical setting of the decisions.

Only after I became a librarian did I learn how difficult it is to locate a useful amicus brief from a Supreme Court case.  I have collected, organized, and published the briefs of two subsequent Supreme Court cases on abortion rights.

It was even more satisfying as an author to write an introduction that critiqued the social science literature used by the Supreme Court. As a lawyer I was an expert in finding legal precedent. As a law librarian I could locate and critique literature from many different disciplines. In the case of Gonzales v. Carhart, Justice Kennedy discussed the social science related to late term abortion. I was able to work with the legal scholar Larry Gostin to find conflicting social science literature and to critique the Court’s findings.

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Documentary History of the Legal Aspects of Abortion: Carhart v. Gonzales and Planned Parenthood v. Gonzales

The 8th set of this series includes two cases, Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, which the Supreme Court heard during a single session and decided together. The litigation history includes the statute at issue, the lower court opinions, petition briefs for the parties, merit and amici briefs, oral arguments, and the final decision. The introduction, co-written by Prof. Lawrence Gostin, a leading international scholar in public health law, explains the history of the litigation and the ongoing controversy it has sparked in the medical and legal communities. This compilation can be used as a learning tool as well as a historical record, as the documents illustrate the strategies in current litigation regarding reproductive rights. There is little doubt that the Supreme Court will visit this issue in the future.

Price: $390.00 (3 volumes cloth)
Item #: 1000257
ISBN: 9780837739663
Published: Buffalo; William S. Hein & Co., Inc.; 2014