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Legal Research Reports: Most Viewed Reports of the Decade

The Law Library of Congress’ Global Legal Research Directorate specializes in U.S. and foreign law, producing legal research reports that explain how countries around the world approach the regulation of particular topics. In the past decade, the Law Library of Congress has published dozens of reports. Millions of views later, we are recapping our most popular reports of these past 10 years. Here are our top-ten most viewed reports in this past decade with their summaries:

10. Points-Based Immigration: Canada (January 2020)

In 2015, Canada introduced the Express Entry as a system that manages applications for three economic immigration programs the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canadian Experience Class. The Express Entry application management system is governed under Ministerial Instructions. The system manages applications for permanent residence through a two-step process: First, the system assesses whether the applicant is eligible for any of the three programs and those that are placed in the Express Entry pool are assigned a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score based on the information in their profile by looking at factors such as education, language ability, and work experience. Invitations for permanent residence are sent to the candidates with the highest scores in the pool. The points an applicant gets from the CRS have two components—a core set of points up to 600 based on factors such as skills and experience and a set of additional points up to 600 based on factors such as a valid job offer—with a total score out of 1,200 points. The CRS score is dynamic depending upon updates to the profile.

9. Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy: Canada (February 2013)

The control of firearms in Canada is predominantly governed by the Firearms Act, the Criminal Code, and their subordinate regulations. The Criminal Code defines the main categories of firearms, which include restricted, prohibited, and non-restricted firearms. The Firearms Act regulates the possession, transport, and storage of firearms.

Canadian law has both licensing and registration requirements for the possession and acquisition of firearms. These requirements are administered by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) through the Canadian Firearms Program (CFP).

8. Firearms-Control Legislation and Policy: South Africa (February 2013)

South Africa’s current firearms regulatory framework consists of the Firearms Control Act (FCA) and its subsidiary legislation, which has been in place since 2004. This framework imposes strict substantive and procedural requirements for obtaining a competency certificate, license, permit, or authorization to possess a firearm, to deal in firearms, or to carry out other firearm-related activities, including running a firearms-training enterprise or a hunting business.

7. Prohibition of Interfaith Marriage (September 2015)

This report provides information on the laws of 29 countries, plus the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, that prohibit marriages between people of two different religions. In the majority of the countries identified for this report, the prohibition of interfaith marriage arises from the implementation of Islamic personal status laws, either in codified or uncodified form, with respect to marriages involving Muslims. These countries either do not have separate civil marriage laws or do not allow Muslim individuals to marry under such laws.

6. Sentencing Guidelines: South Africa (April 2014)

In South Africa, sentencing is considered the primary prerogative of trial courts and they enjoy wide discretion to determine the type and severity of a sentence on a case-by-case basis. In doing so, they follow judge-made, broad sentencing principles known as the “triad of Zinn,” which require that, when making sentencing determinations, judges consider three things: the gravity of the offense, the circumstances of the offender, and public interest.

5. War Powers: United States

This guide is intended to serve as an introduction to research on the War Powers Resolution, Public Law 93-148, 87 Stat. 555, passed over President Nixon’s veto on November 7, 1973. The War Powers Resolution is sometimes referred to as the War Powers Act, its title in the version passed by the Senate. This Joint Resolution is codified in the United States Code (“USC”) in Title 50, Chapter 33, Sections 1541-48.

4. United States: Gun Ownership and the Supreme Court (July 2008)

On June 26, 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller (PDF), the United States Supreme Court issued its first decision since 1939 interpreting the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. It also ruled that two District of Columbia provisions, one that banned handguns and one that required lawful firearms in the home to be disassembled or trigger-locked, violate this right.

The Second Amendment, one of the ten amendments to the Constitution comprising the Bill of Rights, states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The meaning of this sentence is not self-evident, and has given rise to much commentary but relatively few Supreme Court decisions.

3. Regulation of Cryptocurrency Around the World (June 2018)

This report surveys the legal and policy landscape surrounding cryptocurrencies around the world. This report covers 130 countries as well as some regional organizations that have issued laws or policies on the subject. The four years prior to this report saw cryptocurrencies become ubiquitous, prompting more national and regional authorities to grapple with their regulation. The expansive growth of cryptocurrencies made it possible to identify emerging patterns.

Since this report was published, many countries have further developed their regulatory systems with respect to cryptocurrency. Some of these developments were discussed in a further report by the Law Library: Regulatory Approaches to Cryptoassets (April 2019), which covered 46 jurisdictions.

2. Restrictions on Genetically Modified Organisms: United States (March 2014)

GMOs are regulated in the United States under the Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology, published in 1986, pursuant to previously existing statutory authority regulating conventional products, with a focus on the nature of the products rather than the process in which they are produced.

Plant GMOs are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service under the Plant Protection Act. GMOs in food, drugs, and biological products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Public Health Service Act. GMO pesticides and microorganisms are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act. The form of regulation varies depending on the type of GMO involved.

1. Right to Peaceful Assembly: United States (October 2014)

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the United States Congress from enacting legislation that would abridge the right of the people to assemble peaceably. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution makes this prohibition applicable to state governments.

The Supreme Court of the United States has held that the First Amendment protects the right to conduct a peaceful public assembly. The right to assemble is not, however, absolute.  Government officials cannot simply prohibit a public assembly in their own discretion, but the government can impose restrictions on the time, place, and manner of peaceful assembly, provided that constitutional safeguards are met. Time, place, and manner restrictions are permissible so long as they “are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, . . . are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and . . . leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.” Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781, 791 (1989) (quoting Clark v. Cmty. For Creative Non-Violence, 468 U.S. 288, 293 (1984)) (internal citations omitted), available at //www.loc.gov/item/usrep468288/

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