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Pritzker Legal Research Center


Supreme Court of the United States Research

The guide provides research help and resources related to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)

Opinions

The Supreme Court's official opinions are released in three phases: 1) on the day the decision is announced, the Court releases a "slip opinion;" 2) roughly 5 years following the slip opinion, opinions are bound in the "Prelimary Print" of the official United States Reports (U.S.); 3) finally, about 6 years after the opinion is first released, the bound, official volume of United States Reports is published.

The slip opinions and the bound volumes (from 1988), but not the preliminary prints, are available on the Court's website. All 3 versions are found in PDF format in HeinOnline's U.S. Supreme Court Library.

In addition to the official reports, unofficial reporters are released at a quicker pace than the U.S. Reports. On Westlaw is West's Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.); on Lexis Advance is the United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition (L. Ed.; L. Ed. 2d).

Finally, volumes of United States Reports prior to volume 91 are also cited to the volumes denoted by the Court's Reporter of Decisions. See The Bluebook, for the complete list of these nominative reports.

Records and Briefs

While the collection above is one of the most comprehensive, coverage ends in 1978. For post-1978 records and briefs, there are multiple sources for records and briefs, including:

There is also a microfiche collection covering roughly the same timeframe as the R&B database above; while the R&B database has most of the items in the microfiche collection, there are some instances in which only the database or only the microfiche contain a particular document.

Oral Arguments and Nominations

Oral Argument

The Supreme Court's website has oral argument transcripts from October 1969 and oral argument audio from October 2010.

Oyez is a multimedia site that includes oral argument audio, in recent years keyed to the transcript text, and additional resources related to individual cases. Audio files go much further back than the Court's collection, sometimes including material from before the Court began regularly recording oral argument (litigants before the Court sometimes paid out of pocket for a recording/transcript of oral argument).

Confirmation Hearings

The first modern Senate confirmation hearing took place in 1916 with the nomination of Louis Brandeis. All documents from then forward are collected in the set below:

The Supreme Court of the United States: Hearings and Reports on Successful and Unsuccessful Nominations of Supreme Court Justices by the Senate Judiciary Committee.