May 24, 2017 "Merchant of Venice" Gets a Sequel

Law Library of Congress to Enact Shylock’s Appeal

Press Contact: Jennifer Gavin (202) 707-1940
Public Contact: Donna Sokol (202)707-8929
Website: Tickets via Eventbrite External | YouTube livestream (captioned) External | Facebook livestream External
Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or

The Law Library of Congress will present a live performance titled, “Justice for Shylock: A Mock Appeal Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Venice Ghetto” on Wednesday, June 21 at 5 p.m. in the Coolidge Auditorium, located on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street, S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free, but tickets are required and available at this website. The event will also be livestreamed on the Library’s Facebook page at and its YouTube site (with captions) at

This event is the last of three hosted by the Law Library commemorating the founding of the Jewish Ghetto in Venice.  The program is an unscripted mock appeal of Shylock’s case from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” imagining what takes place after the play ends.  The appeal also addresses Portia’s impersonation of a man and a lawyer, as well as the merits of Antonio’s proposed solution requiring Shylock to convert to Christianity and distribute his wealth.       

Beginning March 29, 1516, the Venetian Republic required Jews in Venice to reside within a walled area of the city, separate from the surrounding Catholic population. The site chosen for this segregated area came to be called the “Ghetto”— the first such walled enclosure in Europe to be described by that word. The Jewish population of Venice was required to live within this walled district until 1797, when the French army conquered Venice and dissolved the Republic. Today, the Jewish Ghetto of Venice is remembered as an important Italian center of Jewish life and the site where many early Hebrew books were first printed, including the Hebrew Bible and the Babylonian Talmud.

The “appeal” will be heard by five judges including U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Professors Suzanne Reynolds and Richard Schneider of Wake Forest University Law School; former U.S. Ambassador to the OECD Connie Morella; and Micaela del Monte from the European Parliament.  The case will be argued by Michael Klotz of the law firm Jones Day; Law Librarian and Professor Teresa Miguel-Stearns of Yale Law School; and Eugene D. Gulland of Covington LLP.  Assistance will be provided by James Shapiro of Columbia University, Michael Kahn of Washington’s Shakespeare Theatre Company and Washington-area actor Edward Gero.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had a varied career.  After she graduated from law school at Columbia University, she spent two years clerking for a judge in the Southern District of New York.  She then became an associate director for a comparative law project at Columbia University until 1963, when she joined the faculty at Rutgers Law School, followed by an eight-year stint at Columbia Law School.  During the 1970s she also litigated cases for the American Civil Liberties Union.  In 1980, President Carter nominated her to the United States Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia, where she served until her nomination to the Supreme Court in 1993. 

The Law Library of Congress was founded in 1832 with the mission to make its resources available to members of Congress, the Supreme Court, other branches of the U.S. government and the global legal community, and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of law for future generations. With more than 2.9 million volumes, the Law Library contains the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of law books and other resources from all countries and provides online databases and guides to legal information worldwide through its website at

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at, and register creative works of authorship at


PR 17-075
ISSN 0731-3527