United States Supreme Court Research Guide

 

Scope

This research guide is designed to assist students, scholars, and practitioners in locating materials on the United States Supreme Court and its decisions.  It describes resources for Court opinions, orders, briefs, oral arguments, dockets, petitions for certiorari, and news.  The guide focuses on resources available in the Ross-Blakley Law Library and free electronic sources.

 

Comprehensive Resources

United States Supreme Court

The website of the United States Supreme Court is an excellent starting point for research on the Court.  The site has Court opinions available in slip form as pdf documents (until the print volume of the U.S. Reports is published), as well as opinions back to 1991 (Volume 502) from the bound volumes.  Orders from the October term (OT) 2003 to the present are also available, and contain such information as the status of requests for certiorari and motions in pending cases.  In addition, the Court’s Journal from OT 1993 to the present, transcripts of oral arguments from OT 2000 to the present, and audio recordings of arguments from OT 2010 to the present can all be accessed.  The website also offers a docket search for cases from the current and prior terms, up-to-date unannotated Court Rules, information about bar admission to appear before the court, and secondary sources on the justices.

 

Supreme Court Today

Bloomberg BNA’s Supreme Court Today provides up-to-date information on Supreme Court developments, as well as the full-text of Court cases, Court dockets, calendars, and related Court news.  It allows searching of petitions for certiorari, offers highlights of oral arguments, and synthesizes the current and upcoming terms in comprehensive charts.  U.S. Law Week: Supreme Court Today can be accessed on campus, or remotely by ASU Law students, faculty, and staff with an ASURITE ID.  It is also available on the subscription database Bloomberg Law. 

 

Opinions

Supreme Court opinions are available in U.S. Law Week about a week after they are issued.  U.S. Law Week is a Bloomberg BNA looseleaf service published weekly that reports on significant court cases, legislative developments, and regulatory actions.  It is available in print in the Law Library at KF175 .U5, on Bloomberg Law, and through the BNA Electronic Database Library.

 

Supreme Court opinions are available four to six weeks after issuance in the two unofficial Supreme Court reporters, Supreme Court Reporter and United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer’s Edition. The Supreme Court Reporter, published by West, contains cases beginning with the 1882 term; it is available in print in the Core section of the Law Library and online through Westlaw.  The United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer’s Edition, published by LexisNexis, contains cases since 1754; it is available in print in the Core section of the Law Library and on Lexis Advance.

 

The official United States Reports preliminary prints of Supreme Court opinions are available two to three months after the decision is issued, with the bound edition published one to two years later. U.S. Reports contains cases since 1754 and is available in print in the Core section of the Law Library and through the HeinOnline Supreme Court Library.

 

Subscription Resources

  • Westlaw:  The Westlaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinions database allows searching of Court opinions from 1790 to the present. 
  • Lexis Advance:  The Lexis Advance U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Lawyer’s Edition database allows searching of Court opinions from 1790 to the present.
  • Bloomberg Law:  Bloomberg Law allows searching of Supreme Court opinions from 1791 to the present.  From the “Search & Browse” tab navigate to the “Court Opinions” search feature and choose “U.S. Supreme Court” from the “Federal Court Opinions” menu.
  • HeinOnline:  HeinOnline has Supreme Court opinions from 1754 to the present available through its U.S. Supreme Court Library.  Opinions can be searched or browsed.

 Free Resources

  • Justia Supreme Court Center: The Justia Supreme Court Center has Court opinions from 1759 to the present available; cases are organized by year.
  • Oyez ProjectThe Oyez Project at the Chicago-Kent College of Law has Court opinions from 1793 to the present available.
  • Legal Information InstituteThe Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School allows searching of Court opinions from 1990 to the present, with selected historical opinions (1789-1990) available.  Opinions can also be browsed by topic, author, and party name.

Orders

The vast majority of cases filed in the Supreme Court are disposed of summarily through Orders, short dispositions released by the Court. 

 

Subscription Resources

  • Westlaw:  The Westlaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinions database allows searching of Court cases, including cases disposed of by order, from 1790 to the present.
  • LexisAdvance:  The Lexis Advance U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Lawyer’s Edition database allows searching of Court cases, including cases disposed of by order, from 1790 to the present. 

Free Resources

  • U.S. Supreme Court website: Orders of the Court from OT 2003 to the present available.
  • Legal Information Institute: The Legal Information Institute at Cornell has Orders of the Court available from 1998 to the present.
  • Journal of the Supreme Court of the United States: The Journal of the Supreme Court of the United States contains the official minutes of the Court.  It is published each day that the Court issues orders or opinions and reflects the disposition of each case. The Journal is available for free on the Court’s website (OT 1993-present).  It can also be access on campus or with an ASURITE ID on HeinOnline (1902-present).

Briefs

Briefs submitted to the Court contain the legal arguments, facts, and documents parties rely on when arguing before the Court. Merits briefs are those submitted by parties to the case; amicus briefs are those submitted by non-parties hoping to influence the Court’s decision.

 

Subscription Resources

  • Westlaw:  The Westlaw U.S. Supreme Court Briefs database contains merit and amicus briefs for cases granted certiorari from 1930 to the present.
  • LexisAdvance:  The Lexis Advance U.S. Supreme Court Briefs database contains merit and amicus briefs for cases granted certiorari from 1979 to the present, with selected coverage from 1936.

Free Resources

  • United States Supreme Court Records and Briefs (Congressional Information Service):  This microfiche set has briefs for argued cases back to 1897 and for non-argued cases back to 1975. It is available at Law Microforms KF101 S.88 Cabinet 39-43.
  • The Records and Briefs of the Supreme Court of the United States (Scholarly Resources): This microfiche/microform set has records and briefs of the Supreme Court for the years 1910-2007 available on microfiche located at Law Microforms KF101 .S88 Cabinet 39-43.  An Index to the set is available at Law Microforms KF 101 .S87.
  • Landmark Briefs and Arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States (Philip B. Kurland and Gerhard Casper, University Publications of America, 1975—):  This multi-volume print set contains briefs filed in major constitutional law cases from 1793 to 1980. The set is organized chronologically, and the names and years of cases included in each volume are printed on the spine.  It is available at Law Treatises KF101.8 .K87.
  • ABA Supreme Court PreviewThe American Bar Association’s Supreme Court Preview offers merit and amicus briefs in pdf format for cases from the current Supreme Court term, and merit briefs archived back to OT 2003.  Briefs are accessible by case name.
  • Office of the Solicitor GeneralThe website of the Office of the Solicitor General contains all Supreme Court briefs filed by the Solicitor General from 1998 to the present, with the exception of the government’s responses to “in forma pauperis” petitions.  Select briefs from 1982-1997 are also available.  Briefs can be searched by subject/client or browsed by term.
  • SCOTUSblogThe SCOTUSblog has briefs from OT 2007 to the present.  Cases are organized by term and briefs are available within the info page of each case.
  • FindlawFindlaw has briefs from OT 1999 to OT 2007.  Briefs are organized by term of oral argument and then by case name.  

Oral Arguments

The Supreme Court has transcribed and recorded nearly all oral arguments heard since 1955. 

 

Subscription Resources

  • Westlaw: The Westlaw Supreme Court Oral Argument Transcripts database has oral argument transcripts from 1990 to the present.  Transcripts are available approximately fifteen days after the date of the oral argument.
  • LexisAdvance:  The LexisAdvance United States Supreme Court Transcripts database has oral arguments from OT 1979 to the present. Transcripts are available approximately fifteen days after the date of the oral argument.

Free Resources

  • The Complete Oral Arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States (University Publications of America):  This microfiche collection contains oral argument transcripts for cases heard from 1952 to the present.  It is available at Law Microforms KF101 .S91 Cabinet 43. 
  • Landmark Briefs and Arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States (Philip B. Kurland and Gerhard Casper, University Publications of America, 1975—) This multi-volume print set contains oral argument summaries, abstracts, and texts from selected constitutional law cases from 1793 to 1980. The set is organized chronologically, and the names and years of cases included in each volume are printed on the spine.  It is available at Law Treatises KF101.8 .K87
  • May it Please the Court: The Most Significant Oral Arguments Made Before the Supreme Court Since 1955 (Peter Irons and Stephanie Guitton ed., The New Press, 1993):  This set of cassette tapes and accompanying book contain audio recordings of 23 significant oral arguments before the Supreme Court from 1955 to 1993 along with transcripts of the arguments.  It is available at Law Media KF4748 .M39 1993.
  • United States Supreme Court Website:  The Supreme Court website has transcripts of oral arguments from OT 2000 to the present and audio recordings of oral arguments from OT 2010 to the present.  Transcripts are posted online the same day as the argument, while audio recordings are posted weekly on Fridays after Conference. 
  • Oyez Project:  The Oyez Project at the Chicago-Kent College of Law has digitized hundreds of recordings of Supreme Court oral arguments from the collection of the National Archives.  Selected arguments are available beginning with OT 1955 and most arguments are available beginning with OT 1979; current arguments are not available until after the term has ended.  In addition to audio of arguments, the Oyez Project has argument transcripts and provides an Oyez Player which overlays audio with text and identifies the speaker.

Dockets

Supreme Court dockets contain status information about both pending and decided cases.

 

Subscription Resources

  • Westlaw: The Westlaw U.S. Supreme Court Dockets database has dockets available starting with cases filed in January 2000.  Dockets are updated 45 days after the initial filing date.

Free Resources

 

Petitions for Certiorari

Petitions for certiorari are petitions filed with the Supreme Court asking the court to review the decision of a lower court.  Petitions include party names, a statement of the facts, the legal questions presented for review, and an argument for granting certiorari.

 

Subscription Resources

  • Westlaw:  The Westlaw  U.S. Supreme Court Petitions for Writ of Certiorari database has petitions for writ of certiorari and related documents, including briefs, from 1985 to the present.
  • LexisAdvance:  The LexisAdvance U.S. Supreme Court Briefs database has petitions for certiorari from 1999 to the present, with selected older petitions available. 

Free Resources

  • The Records and Briefs of the Supreme Court of the United States (Scholarly Resources):  This microfiche/microform set has records and briefs of the Supreme Court for the years 1910-2007 available on microfiche located at Law Microforms KF101 .S88 Cabinet 39-43.  An Index to the set is available at Law Microforms KF 101 .S87.  For the years prior to 1960 petitions for certiorari are included only for cases where certiorari was granted; for the years 1960-the present petitions for certiorari are available for both cases where certiorari was denied and granted.
  • SCOTUSblogThe SCOTUSblog posts selected current petitions for certiorari on its “Petitions We’re Watching” page.  Entries for each case include certiorari-stage documents and links to the lower-court opinion.

News

  • U.S. Law Week: Supreme Court Today:  Supreme Court Today is available in U.S. Law Week.  In addition to the text of Court opinions, Court dockets, calendars, and journal, this resource provides information on the status of petitions for certiorari, offers highlights of oral arguments, and reports Court news.  Supreme Court Today is available in the Law Library at KF175 .U5, on Bloomberg Law, and through the BNA Electronic Database Library.
  • Washington Post – U.S. Supreme Court CoverageThe Washington Post U.S. Supreme Court Coverage blog offers information about current Supreme Court cases.
  • New York Times – U.S. Supreme Court:  The New York Times U.S. Supreme Court topic page centralizes NY Times coverage of Supreme Court developments and includes commentary, links to headlines around the web, and multimedia resources.
  • Wall Street Journal Law Blog: Supreme CourtThe Wall Street Journal Law Blog covers significant court cases and emerging trends in the law.  This site collects blog posts pertaining to the Supreme Court.
  • Oyez ProjectThe Oyez Project at the Chicago-Kent College of Law is a multimedia archive of Supreme Court resources.  The Project provides access to oral argument audio recordings, oral argument transcripts, court opinions, and information on the nine justices.
  • SCOTUSblogThe SCOTUSblog covers all aspects of the Supreme Court and provides both commentary and resources related to the Court including opinions, briefs, select petitions for certiorari, and news coverage of every merit case before the Court.  
  • liibulletin: The LII Supreme Court BulletinThe liibulletin is an electronic journal produced by students at Cornell Law School.  The journal covers Supreme Court developments and offers case commentary.

Updated 1/2014

  

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