The Bluebook provides extensive rules for citation to United States Supreme Court opinions in Table T1. Slip opinions are first to appear and the United States Reports the last. The library holds print copies of each of these sources except slip opinions. The Bluebook requires citation in the following order of preference, if the decision is available in that source. If the case may have become available in a more preferred source since the article was drafted, cite to that instead.
|Cite||Reporter (in order of Bluebook preference)||PDF Source||Coverage|
Official United States Reports.
(Publication of the United States Reports generally lags several years after the decisions. The most current volume as of Sept. 2015 is from Vol 558, Oct Term 2009).
United States Preliminary Reports Prints
(Softbound versions subject to correction; lags about a year)
|HeinOnline||Approximately one year to three years|
|S. Ct.||West Supreme Court Reporter||West's Supreme Court Reporter is available in PDF in Westlaw.||From 1918 (for source and cite purposes, only last 2-3 years important for citation purposes)|
|L. Ed.||Supreme Court Reporter -- Lawyer's Edition||Not available in PDF.|
|U.S.L.W.||United States Law Week||Database available online, but not in a PDF format.|
|(Slip Op.)||Slip opinions||Supreme Court website||From 2012|
|HeinOnline||Last four years|
|Records and Briefs||Westlaw||From 1990|
|Making of Modern Law||1832-1978|
Published Cases in Federal and State Courts
Westlaw now provides PDFs of substantially all published decisions in its federal and Regional Reporters back to 1920. This means that most federal and state cases you need should be available. The principal exceptions are the California Reporter (Cal. Rptr.) and the New York Supplement (N.Y.S.). You can access PDFs at the top of any opinions for which they are available by locating the decision with the citation or by a search in the appropriate case database.
PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is the official government service to obtain case and docket information from federal appellate, district and bankruptcy courts. However, there is a fee to access court documents ($0.10 per page.) on PACER, so we recommend using Bloomberg Law to find court filings.
Bloomberg Law includes full coverage of Federal Court dockets (same data from PACER) and select state court coverage. Select the Dockets Search link to search dockets. When looking at a docket for a specific case, links that say "View" indicate a document is available to download. If no one has previously requested the document through Bloomberg the links will say "Request." You may request their retrieval by clicking on the "Request" link. A “Document Request” screen will appear. You do not need to enter a Client Code, simply press “Submit” and ignore the notice about costs as there are no retrieval charges for academic accounts. Bloomberg Law may not be able to retrieve all documents, particularly for state courts.
Note: Access to Bloomberg Law requires an individual username and password. NU Law students and faculty can register for a Bloomberg Law account with their NLaw email address at: https://www.bloomberglaw.com/activate.
Westlaw provides access to Federal Court dockets and select state court dockets via the Dockets link. However, not all documents are available. Some will tell you that Access is Denied. You can also check the “Filings” tab when you find a docket to see if any of the case documents are available.