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Titles related to the US Supreme Court

When Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement on June 27, the country was alight with mixed reactions: Democrats were anxious to lose what had become an often-critical swing vote, while President Donald Trump and other Republicans were excited to put another conservative on the bench.

While serving almost three decades as a justice, Kennedy had presented relatively liberal stances toward numerous issues, including gay rights, abortion and gun control.

“Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises,” he wrote to Trump in a short, hand-delivered letter.

On Monday, July 9, Trump made his announcement: He was recommending conservative Brett Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy. A graduate of both Yale and Yale Law, Kavanaugh has served as a judge on the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006. Despite his experience, many on both sides of the aisle have expressed their doubts that he is right for the job.

Among those concerned include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who worries that Kavanaugh’s long career will produce an excess amount of documents for the Senate to examine, making a speedy confirmation process unlikely. Meanwhile, Democrats fear that the addition of another Republican to the Supreme Court will mean threats to topics like reproductive rights and immigration reform.

Below are a selection of titles for readers interested in the history of the Supreme Court available in the HEB collection.

From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: the Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality

By Michael J. Klarman: Read 

Summer For The Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion

By Edward J. Larson: Read

The Character of Justice: Rhetoric, Law, and Politics in the Supreme Court Confirmation Process

By Trevor Parry-Giles: Read

Abortion and Woman's Choice: The State, Sexuality, and Reproductive Freedom

By Rosalind Pollack Petchesky: Read

Trumping Religion: The New Christian Right, The Free Speech Clause, and the Courts

By Steven P. Brown: Read

Legalizing Gender Inequality: Courts, Markets, and Unequal Pay for Women in America

By Robert L. Nelson and William P. Bridges: Read

A brief history of the EPA

With President Donald Trump’s recent announcement of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s resignation came plenty of talk about perceived failures, possible replacements and the future of the agency.

“I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,” Trump tweeted on July 5. “Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this.”

Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA, which lasted just over one year, saw no lack of criticism, particularly from environmental activists who felt Pruitt and the Trump administration were rolling back on protective measures previously put in place to conserve natural resources and stave off climate change. Others felt Pruitt and his team were “changing the culture of the agency and eliminating government regulations,” according to Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist who was quoted in a recent New York Times article.

More than anything, discussions of the agency’s future led to one undeniable conclusion: American citizens are uninformed as to the EPA’s history and current role.


As listed on the EPA’s official website, the agency was created in 1970 under the Nixon administration after nearly a decade of increased concern over the environment. Earlier that year, Nixon had presented a 37-point message to Congress on the environment. Among these points included:

  • A request for $4 billion to improve water-treatment facilities
  • Asking for national air quality standards and guidelines to lower motor vehicle emissions
  • Launching federally-funded research to reduce automobile pollution
  • Approving a National Contingency Plan for the treatment of oil spills

In addition, Nixon had created a special council dedicated to creating federal organizations that would be dedicated to reducing pollution. Taking the recommendations from this council, Nixon announced his plans for a specialized agency to monitor these responsibilities: the Environmental Protection Agency. After Congress approved the proposal that summer, the Agency’s first administrator, William Ruckelshaus, was sworn in on Dec. 4, 1970.


Information courtesy of

October 18, 1972
Congress passes the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly known as the Clean Water Act, to restore and maintain waters by preventing pollution, providing assistance to publicly-owned wastewater treatment facilities, and maintaining the integrity of wetlands.
July 30, 1975
Two lawn and garden pesticides, heptachlor and chlordane, are suspended after new studies revealed that about 75 percent of dairy and meat products in the United States contained the chemicals and that virtually every person in the country had residue of the chemical in their bodies.
August 8, 1977
President Jimmy Carter signs the Clean Air Act Amendments to strengthen air quality standards.
December 10, 1980
Congress creates the Superfund Program, holding polluters responsible for cleaning up most hazardous waste sites.
May 16, 1985
A British Antarctic Survey team discovers a 7.3 million square mile ozone hole over Antarctica, marking the first evidence of stratospheric ozone depletion.
June 3, 1992
EPA Administrator William K. Reilly leads the US delegation to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, or Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
February 16, 1994
President Clinton issues an executive order that all federal agencies prioritize environmental justice for minorities and low-income population after an EPA report revealed that those populations were exposed more than others to air pollution and other environmental hazards.
August 23, 2005
EPA restores air quality monitoring networks destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and assesses air quality in the hurricane-affected area to ensure public safety.
April 20, 2010
The BP-operated Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico explodes, killing 11 workers. The resulting release becomes the largest oil spill in American history.
June 25, 2013

President Obama announces a climate change strategy focusing on preparing for the effects of climate change.

Want to learn more? Browse these HEB titles

“Down To Earth: Nature’s Role in American History” by Ted Sternberg, Read

“Inescapable Ecologies: A History of Environment, Disease, and Knowledge” by Linda Nash, Read

“The Environment and World History” edited by Edmund Burke III and Kenneth Pomeranz, Read

“Toxic Tourism: Rhetorics of Pollution, Travel, and Environmental Justice” by Phaedra C. Pezzullo, Read



Immigration debate picks up in the US

The “zero tolerance” immigration policy introduced by the Trump Administration in April recently gained deep and widespread condemnation from both politicians and the American public, as well as the international community.

More than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents, many seeking asylum due to escalating instability and dangerous conditions in their native countries. At least 100 of those children are under the age of 4, according to a report by ProPublicaThese people are awaiting prosecution for seeking to cross the Mexico-U.S. border illegally, considered a misdemeanor charge (although re-entry is a low-level felony).


One of the most notable examples of criticism is the public scrutiny issued by all five living First Ladies, including current First Lady Melania Trump. Former First Lady Laura Bush penned an op-Ed for The Washington Post, published on Sunday, June 17, writing: “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

American citizens also made their opinions heard, within social media and in real-life protests. One San Francisco couple started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $1,500, enough money to free one migrant parent with a low bond. Within days, they had raised more than $15 million—and the total continues to grow. They have since handed over the fundraising effort to Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a Texas nonprofit that will use the money to assist these families.

On Wednesday afternoon, President Trump signed an executive order intended to keep families reaching the border together while they wait to be granted asylum. However, it is unclear whether this effort will also assist the parents already separated from their children locate and reunite with them. 


In spite of political affiliations or personal feelings, one of the most prevalent issues apparent as this story escalated was the spread of misinformation and the misrepresentation of facts. Though the Border Patrol has been around since 1924, it became evident that many American citizens are unaware of the full extent of the organization’s duties and policies. The same can be said for the zero tolerance policy: Although the policy in its current form was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions just months ago, this issue has existed for some time.

Humanities E-Book has myriad titles dedicated to the topic of Migrant Studies and continues to add more to our collection in an effort to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information to our subscribers. It is impossible to grasp the history of America without understanding the history of migrants, from their journeys to the communities they inhabit and mold.

Featured Image (“Immigrant rights march for amnesty in downtown Los Angeles, California on May Day, 2006”) via Wikipedia Commons, by Jonathon McIntosh (CC-BY-2.5)

Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol

Coming soon: By Kelly Lyle Hernandez (University of California Press, 2010)

Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America

By Mae M. Ngai (Princeton University Press, 2004)


Mexican New York: Transnational Lives of New Immigrants

By Robert Courtney Smith (University of California Press, 2005)


Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation

By Alejandro Portes and Ruben G. Rumbaut (University of California Press, 2001)


Anglos and Mexicans: In the Making of Texas 1836-1986

By David Montejano (University of Texas Press, 1987)


War, Diplomacy, and Development: The United States and Mexico, 1938-1954

By Stephen R. Niblo (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1995)


Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945

By George J. Sanchez (Oxford University Press, 1995)


Pride Month 2018

Celebrate Pride Month with HEB Titles in LGBTQ Studies

By Diana Davies, copyright owned by New York Public Library – CC BY-SA 3.0,

Happy Pride Month 2018! Starting as a day of remembrance for the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Manhattan, often considered a tipping-point for LGBTQ relations in the United States, Pride Month now is a platform for many issues related to the LGBTQ community. According to the Library of Congress, today, “The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.”

A few years ago, HEB added LGBTQ as a primary subject area in our collection. It no longer felt appropriate to designate titles speaking to LGBTQ scholars and communities with another subject heading, and we witnessed increasing demand for diversity in faculty and scholarship coming out of the academe.

The humanities offer students unique perspectives on the history, culture, and possible future of LGBTQ relations in the U.S. and abroad. Some of the titles HEB has decided to highlight below from our collection are strong examples of this—whether it is looking at religious reactions in history to female homoeroticism, historical perspectives on homosexuality and citizenship in America, or how transsexuality has evolved over time in the US.

If you are a scholar, librarian, or student working in LGBTQ Studies and have a recommendation for HEB, please visit our title recommendation page or email HEB.

Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis
by Ronald Bayer, Basic Books (1981)


Epistemology of the Closet
by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, University of California Press (2008)


The Queer Composition of America's Sound: Gay Modernists, American Music, and National Identity
by Nadine Hubbs, University of California Press (2004)


Masculine Interests: Homoerotics in Hollywood Film
by Robert Lang, Columbia University Press (2002)


The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia
by Tom Boellstorff, Princeton University Press (2005)



Spotlight: ATLA Special Series

ATLA Special Series

HEB will be heading to Indianapolis in two weeks for the ATLA Annual Conference. This is a great time for members of ATLA to get to know the HEB collection a little more.

The highlight of the collection for ATLA members is the ATLA Special Series. Launched in 2016, the series is selection of nearly 100 titles (and growing!) that have been recommended for inclusion in the collection by ATLA members or titles deemed of special interest to theologians in the HEB collection.

During the conference, stop by HEB’s table and chat with Lee Walton to learn more about the special series or recommend a title. Don’t forget to check out a few of the titles in the special series below as well (subscriber access only).

About ATLA

From the ATLA Website

Established in 1946, the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) is a professional association of over 800 individual, institutional, and affiliate members providing programs, products, and services in support of theological and religious studies libraries and librarians. ATLA’s ecumenical membership represents many religious traditions and denominations.

Proving Woman: Female Spirituality and Inquisitional Culture in the Later Middle Ages

by Dyan Elliot, Princeton University Press (2004)

From the Publisher:

While studies of sanctity and heresy tend to be undertaken separately, Proving Woman brings these two avenues of inquiry together by associating the downward trajectory of holy women with medieval society’s progressive reliance on the inquisitional procedure. Inquisition was soon used for resolving most questions of proof. It was employed for distinguishing saints and heretics; it underwrote the new emphasis on confession in both sacramental and judicial spheres; and it heralded the reintroduction of torture as a mechanism for extracting proof through confession.


Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought

by Pascal Boyer, Basic Books (2001)

From the Publisher:

Many of our questions about religion, says renowned anthropologist Pascal Boyer, are no longer mysteries. We are beginning to know how to answer questions such as “Why do people have religion?” Using findings from anthropology, cognitive science, linguistics, and evolutionary biology, Religion Explained shows how this aspect of human consciousness is increasingly admissible to coherent, naturalistic explanation. This brilliant and controversial book gives readers the first scientific explanation for what religious feeling is really about, what it consists of, and where it comes from.


The Matter of the Gods: Religion and the Roman Empire

by Clifford Ando, University of California Press (2008)

From the Publisher:

What did the Romans know about their gods? Why did they perform the rituals of their religion, and what motivated them to change those rituals? To these questions Clifford Ando proposes simple answers: In contrast to ancient Christians, who had faith, Romans had knowledge, and their knowledge was empirical in orientation. In other words, the Romans acquired knowledge of the gods through observation of the world, and their rituals were maintained or modified in light of what they learned. After a preface and opening chapters that lay out this argument about knowledge and place it in context, The Matter of the Gods pursues a variety of themes essential to the study of religion in history.


The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women's Rights in Islam

by Fatima Mernissi & Mary Jo Lakeland, Perseus Books Group (1991)

From the Publisher:

Convinced that the veil is a symbol of unjust male authority over women, in The Veil and the Male Elite, Moroccan feminist Fatima Mernissi aims to investigate the origins of the practice in the first Islamic community.