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.
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.
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 publication that reports on significant court cases, legislative developments, and regulatory actions. It is available on Bloomberg Law and through the BNA Electronic Database Library.
Supreme Court opinions are also available 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 WestlawNext. The United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer’s Edition, published by LexisNexis, contains cases since 1754; it is available 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.
The vast majority of cases filed in the Supreme Court are disposed of summarily through Orders, short dispositions released by the Court.
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.
The Supreme Court has transcribed and recorded nearly all oral arguments heard since 1955.
Supreme Court dockets contain status information about both pending and decided cases.
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.
JOHN J. ROSS - WILLIAM C. BLAKLEY LAW LIBRARY
PO BOX 877806 • 1102 S MCALLISTER AVE • TEMPE, AZ 85287-7806 • 480-965-6144 • FAX: 480-965-4283