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Case Law and Citators: U.S. Supreme Court

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U.S. Supreme Court Case Reporters

There are three reporters for U.S. Supreme Court case opinions:

  • U.S. Reports (U.S.)
  • Supreme Court Reporter (S.Ct.)
  • U.S. Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers Edition (L.Ed.)

The U.S. Reports are the official reporters and began publication in 1875.  Prior to 1875, case opinions were reported in nominative reporters (named after the individual compiling the reporter or the publisher of the reporter) and these reporters were incorporated in to the first 90 U.S. Reports.  

The Supreme Court Reporter is one of the unofficial reporters for U.S. Supreme Court case opinions.  The Supreme Court Reporter is a West publication first published in 1882.  The other major unofficial reporter is the U.S. Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers Edition, published by Lexis. U.S. Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers Edition also began publication in 1882, with the second series starting in 1956.    These two unofficial reporters provide editorial enhancements not found in the official reporter, such as headnotes, West Key Numbering and additional research references.

U.S. Supreme Court Case Opinions Online

There are several commercial databases which provide access to U.S. Supreme Court case opinions.

  • Lexis utilizes the U.S. Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers Edition as its primary resource.  However, citations will include references to all of the major reporters.
  • Westlaw focuses on the Supreme Court Reporter, but also includes references to the other reporters.  Both Lexis and Westlaw provide access to decisions within hours and include coverage back to 1790.
  • Bloomberg Law provides access dating back to 1791.
  • Hein Online includes Supreme Court case opinions in the U.S. Supreme Court Library.  This library includes the U.S. Reports (1754-2008) and U.S. Reports slip opinions (2002-date).
  • United States Law Week is a publication from Bloomberg BNA.  U.S. Law Week is available in both print and electronic versions and includes case opinions and news related to the activities of the U.S. Supreme Court. 

 

U.S. Supreme Court Case Opinions Online - Free Sources

In addition to the commercial vendors, there are many freely available resources for U.S. Supreme Court case opinions and other court information.