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Supreme Court Research Guide

This guide provides background information and suggests resources for further research on the history of the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices of the Court, and the Court's practice and decisions.


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Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and Bibliographies

Secondary Sources


The following are selected journals that publish articles about the Supreme Court regularly.

  • Cato Supreme Court Review (Available in print (K3 .A8) and electronically from 2001 - )
    In the Cato Supreme Court Review, leading legal scholars analyze the most important cases of the Supreme Court,s most recent term. The Review is published annually on Constitution Day, September 17, in tandem with a major symposium. It is the first scholarly review to appear after the term,s end and the only one to critique the court from a Madisonian perspective. Also available free online from the Cato Institute (2001 - ).
  • Constitutional Commentary (Available in print (K3 .O688) and electronically from 1984 - )
    From the University of Minnesota Law School, this is one of the few faculty-edited law journals in the country. The journal publishes shorter and less ponderous articles, as opposed to the more lengthy and heavily footnoted articles found in traditional law reviews.
  • Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy (Available electronically from 2006 - )
    This journal "examines legal issues at the intersection of constitutional litigation and public policy." There is also an online edition, The Sidebar, which contains brief essays and notes on current trends and Supreme Court case commentaries.
  • Harvard Law Review (Available in print (K8 .A85) and electronically from 1887 - )
    "The November issue contains the Supreme Court Foreword, usually by a prominent constitutional scholar, the faculty Case Comment, and 24 Case Notes,analyses by third-year students of the most important decisions of the previous Supreme Court Term,and a compilation of Court statistics."
  • Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly (Available in print (K8 .A87, 1974-2010) andelectronically (1974 - ))
    The country's oldest law journal devoted exclusively to constitutional law.
  • Journal of Supreme Court History: Yearbook of the Supreme Court History Society (previously known as the Yearbook) (Available in print (K10 .O715KF8741 .A15) from 1976-1995, 2000 to present, and electronically from March 2000 to present)
    ,Published for the Supreme Court Historical Society, the journal and the society are dedicated to the collection and preservation of the history of the Supreme Court of the United States, and to expanding public awareness of that history and heritage.… Also available free online from the Supreme Court Historical Society(1976-1991).
  • Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases (available in print (K16 .R291, current 2-3 years only) and electronically (1973 - ))
    Published by the Public Education Division of the American Bar Association, irregular, currently issued eight times a year.
  • Supreme Court Debates (Available in print (KF3436 .A3 S86) from 1998-2006 and electronicallyfrom 1998 to present)
    Monthly journal containing short articles debating current Supreme Court cases and controversies.
  • Supreme Court Economic Review (Available in print (K23 .U35, (1982-2010) and electronically(1982 - ))
    Published by The Law and Economics Center at George Mason University School of Law this is "an interdisciplinary journal that seeks to provide a forum for scholarship in law and economics, public choice and constitutional political economy. Its approach is broad ranging and contributions will employ explicit or implicit economic reasoning for the analysis of legal issues, with special attention to Supreme Court decisions, judicial process, and institutional design. The use of theoretical and empirical economic models is permitted, but papers are expected to be accessible to a general audience of judges, academic lawyers, and economists."
  • Supreme Court Review (Available in print (K23 .U4) and electronically from 1960 - )
    From the University of Chicago, this is ,an in-depth annual critique of the Supreme Court and its work, keeping up on the forefront of the origins, reforms, and interpretations of American law. SCR is written by and for legal academics, judges, political scientists, journalists, historians, economists, policy planners, and sociologists."
  • Supreme Court Yearbook (Available in print (KF8741 .A152 S95) from OT1989 to OT2000 and electronically from OT1989 to present)
    From CQ Press, the Supreme Court Yearbook contains case summaries, year-end overviews, essays, and more.
  • The Third Branch (Available in print (K24 .H35, 1980 - ) and electronically (1968 - ))
    The monthly newsletter of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Also available free online from theU.S. Courts (1995 - )
  • University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law (Available in print (K25 .N687, 1998-2010) and electronically (1998 - ))
  • William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal (Available in print (K27 .I44, 1992-2010) andelectronically (1992 - ))
  • Congressional Research Service, Supreme Court Opinions: October ____ Term
    The CRS publishes an annual report summarizing Supreme Court opinions for each term. Each opinion description includes the citation, date of decision, subjects headings, a short description, and the final vote and opinion authors. Many of these reports are not currently available to the public; however, available CRS reports on the Supreme Court may be found:
    • ProQuest Congressional (1916 - )
      To search CRS Reports, select Advanced Search under "Congressional Publications" and select "CRS Reports." Search by keyword or subject.
    • Major Studies and Issue Briefs of the Congressional Research Service (JK1108 .M34 Micro) (1916-2003)
      The library has a collection of CRS Reports on microfiche. Use the index to locate reports.

Current Awareness

  • United States Law Week (KF105 .U6) (1940, 1946 - 2018)
    "Supreme Court Today" provides lists of and status information for cases in which certiorari has been granted. Available online through Bloomberg Law.
  • Liibulletin :The LII Supreme Court Bulletin
    A free journal written by law students at Cornell Law School that publishes case previews in advance of oral argument, syllabi of decided cases, and other information. Previews contain a case summary as well as links to additional sources, such as news articles, blog posts, and briefs. Subscribe to the Liibulletin to receive an email update; frequency varies.
  • Jurist (University of Pittsburg School of Law)
    Check this legal news site regularly for stories on the Supreme Court.
  • Washington Post - Coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court
  • New York Times - U.S. Supreme Court Topic
  • SCOTUSblog
    A blog that includes daily previews ("Today at the Court") and summaries (Round-ups), filings, transcripts, opinions and orders, commentary, court calendar, and other SCOTUS-related information.
  • ISCOTUSnow -  IIT Chicago Kent School of Law
  • Case by Case: The U.S. Supreme Court (Thomson Reuters) 
    Brief description of current cases before the Court. Includes information on key issues and lead attorneys and links to news, analysis, and documents from TR News & Insight and Westlaw.
  • Newstex Blogs (Lexis > Browse Sources > Search Sources > Newstex Blogs)
    Database of blogs, including many legal blogs, updated daily.
  • Blogs on Demand (Westlaw)
    Database of blogs, including many legal blogs, updated frequently.


Below is a select list of databases to help you find journal articles, books, reports, news, and theses and dissertations on the Supreme Court.

  • Westlaw and LexisNexis
    Search the Law Reviews & Journals database in Westlaw or limit your search in Lexis toSecondary Materials > Law Reviews & Journals to find journal articles on the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Index to Legal Periodicals and Books
    Database of article listings from nearly 1,000 English language legal periodicals and law books published from 1982 to the present. Publications include law reviews, bar association journals, university publications, yearbooks, and government publications. This database can be searched together with Index to Legal Periodicals & Books Retrospective (1908 to 1981), which indexes approximately 750 journals.
  • LegalTrac
    Cumulative indexing of approximately 875 legal publications. Also includes law related articles from more than 1,000 additional business and general interest periodicals. Coverage begins in 1980. Also available in print as the Current Law Index (KF8 .C8) (1980-2008) and in Lexis (Browse Sources > Search Sources > Legal Resource Index) and Westlaw.
  • Academic Search Premier
    Provides full text for over 4,600 publications covering academic areas of study including social sciences, humanities, education, and linguistics, arts and literature, medical sciences, and ethnic studies. Over 8,200 titles are abstracted and indexed, of which approximately 3,600 are peer-reviewed. Coverage: 1975 , present.
  • America: History and Life
    Primary index to research in U.S. and Canadian history. Provides abstracts of scholarly literature on the history and culture of the U.S. and Canada from pre-history to the present. Covers 1,800 journals in many languages and includes citations to book reviews, media reviews and dissertations. Coverage: 1954 , present.
  • International Political Science Abstracts
    Indexes and abstracts articles from major political science journals. Covers theory, government, political process, international relations, and national and area studies. Indexes over 1,000 international journals. Coverage: 1951 - present.
  • PAIS Index 
    Covers issues in the public debate through a wide variety of international sources including journal articles, books, government documents, statistical directories, grey literature, research reports, conference papers, web content, and more. Coverage: 1915 - present. Descriptor: United States Supreme Court.
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
    Indexes and abstracts articles from over 1,700 political science, international relations, and public policy journals. Descriptor: United States Supreme Court.
  • Policy File Index
    Indexes research and publications from public policy think tanks, university research programs, research organizations, and publishers. Each item includes an abstract and, where available, access to the full-text of the report and/or the homepages and email addresses of the authoring institution.
  • HeinOnline
    Legal database that contains the full text of legal documents in pdf format, in several collections. The U.S. Supreme Court Library contains court opinions, court rules, and books and periodicals on the Supreme Court. The Law Journal Library contains articles from most major law reviews and law journals. Approximately 650 law journals and reviews are included, beginning with the inception date of each publication. Individual publications, or the entire collection, are fully searchable by author or word in title, or keyword or phrase in full text.
    This database includes the full text of the articles from 340 scholarly journals, most beginning with the first volume. Coverage excludes articles from the most recent 3 to 5 years. PDF format. Searching is available across all bibliographic fields and in the full text.
  • Proquest Dissertations and Theses
    Includes 2.4 million dissertation and theses citations from around the world from 1861 to the present day together with 1 million full text dissertations that are available for download in PDF format. The database offers full text for most of the dissertations added since 1997 and strong retrospective full text coverage for older graduate works.
  • The Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises, 1800-1926
    Includes a number of treatises on the Supreme Court and constitutional law.
  • United States Supreme Court Judicial Database Terms Series, Related Literature (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research)
    Partial list of articles using data from the United States Supreme Court Judicial Databases.

Datasets and Statistical Sources

  • The Supreme Court Database (hosted by Washington University in St. Louis)
    Provides access to the data from Harold J. Spaeth's database with a user-friendly interface. There are 247 pieces of information available for each case, and the site provides case-centered and Justice-centered data. Data is currently available for October Term 1946 to October Term 2010. The database will be updated each term and is in the process of being back-dated to the court's first decision (1792). See Collection Status for more information.
  • The Supreme Court Opinion Writing Database (hosted by Washington University in St. Louis)
    Provides access to information on the memos and draft opinions the Justices circulated to their colleagues in the course of the opinion-writing process in cases decided during the Burger Court (October Term 1969 to October Term 1985).
  • The Judicial Research Initiative (JuRI) (University of South Carolina)
    This website includes the following data in SPSS, Stata, SAS, and ASCII formats: the Vinson-Warren Court Database, 1946-1968 Terms; the Expanded Burger Court Database, 1969-1985 Terms; the Justice-Centered Rehnquist Court Database, 1986-1998; the Justice-Centered Burger Court Database, 1969-1985 Terms; and the Justice-Centered Warren Court Database, 1953-1969 Terms.
  • United States Supreme Court Judicial Database Terms Series (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR))
    Data is available in the following formats: ACSII, SAS, SPSS, and Stata
  • Merged Phase I and II of the United States Judicial Database
    The Spaeth and Gibson databases merged and expanded by Dr. Vanessa A. Baird. Data is available Stata, Excel, Text Delimited, and SPSS formats.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court Justices Database (Funded by the National Science Foundation and compiled and maintained by Lee Epstein et al.)
    This public database contains data on all individuals nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court from John Jay to Samuel Alito in five categories: "identifiers, background characteristics and personal attributes, nomination and confirmation, service on the Court, and departures from the bench." Data can be downloaded and analyzed with SPSS, Stata, and Excel.
  • Biographical Directory of Federal Judges (Federal Judicial Center)
    Simple, web-based database that enables users to search for Justices based on particular characteristics, such as by nominating president, gender, race or ethnicity, and reason for termination.
  • SCOTUSblog Statpack
    Statistics from October Term 1995 to present. These statistics have been published in U.S. Law Week and include information on disposition of cases, opinion authors, and votes and voting alignment.
  • Harvard Law Review (Available in print (K8 .A85) and electronically from 1887 - )
    The first issue of each volume of the Harvard Law Review is a review of the last Supreme Court term, and the issue includes a statistical summary.
  • Journal of the Supreme Court of the United States
    Term statistics are included in the beginning of the journal. Available electronically from HeinOnline(1902 - ), the Supreme Court's website (OT 1993 - ), and LLMC Digital (1892 - 2008)
  • Supreme Court Institute (Georgetown University Law Center)
    The Institute published Supreme Court Term Overviews from 2003 to 2006.
  • U.S. Law Week (Available in print (KF105 .U6) from 1940, 1946-2018)
    Term statistics for the previous term are published in one of the first few issues of each volume of "Supreme Court Today."
  • Albert P. Blaustein & Roy M. Mersky, The First One Hundred Justices: Statistical Studies on the Supreme Court of the United States (1978) (KF8741 .A152 B6)
  • Lee Epstein, et al. The Supreme Court Compendium: Data, Decisions, and Developments (5th ed. 2012) (KF8742 .S914)
    An impressive collection of data tables on the most important aspects of the U.S. Supreme Court, including its development as an institution and the Justices, backgrounds, nominations, and confirmations. Also available electronically through CQ Press Electronic Library.
  • Associated Press Interactive
    This website has an interactive graphic showing voting alignment by Justice for OT 2006OT2007 andOT2008. Data is from the Georgetown University Law Center's Supreme Court Institute (OT2006) and from SCOTUSblog (OT2007-).

Web Sites

  • Supreme Court of the United States
    The official website of the U.S. Supreme Court. The site provides background information about the Court, as well as the docket (OT 2007 - ), opinions (OT 1991 - ), orders (OT 1993 - ), rules (current), oral argument transcripts (OT 2000 - ), oral argument recordings (OT 2010 - ), and the oral argument schedule.
  • U.S. Courts
    The official website of the federal judiciary. It provides information on many aspects of the judiciary: judges and judgeships, judiciary budget, judicial compensation, caseload statistics, proceedings of the Judicial Conference of the United States, federal rulemaking, and more. It also provides access to the websites of various federal courts.
  • Administrative Office of the United States Courts
    The AOC provides a wide range of administrative, legal, financial, management, program, and information technology services to the federal courts. The AOC provides support and staff counsel to the Judicial Conference of the United States and its committees, and implements and executes Judicial Conference policies, as well as applicable federal statutes and regulations. The AOC also facilitates communications within the Judiciary and with Congress, the executive branch, and the public on behalf of the Judiciary.
  • Judicial Conference of the United States
    Created by Congress in 1922, the fundamental purpose of the Judicial Conference is to make policy with regard to the administration of the United States courts. The website provides general information about the Conference--its membership and committees--as well as the proceedings of its meetings (1958 - ).
  • Federal Judicial Center
    Established by Congress in 1967 (28 U.S.C. §§ 620-629) on the recommendation of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the "Federal Judicial Center is the research and education agency of the federal judicial system." Some of its duties include "conducting and promoting orientation and continuing education and training for federal judges, court employees, and others; developing recommendations about the operation and study of the federal courts; conducting and promoting research on federal judicial procedures, court operations, and history. By statute, the Chief Justice of the United States chairs the Center,s Board, which also includes the director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and seven judges elected by the Judicial Conference." The site contains the results of Center research on federal court operations and procedures and court history, as well as selected educational materials produced for judges and court employees and the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges (1789 - ).
  • The Supreme Court Historical Society
    Founded by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, the Society, a private non-profit organization, is dedicated to the collection and preservation of the history of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Web site provides various information about history of the Court, the Justices, and the building. The site also includes a detailed guide on researching the Supreme Court.
  • Supreme Court Collection (Legal Information Institute)
    It provides access to Supreme Court decisions (1990 to present plus a number of "historic" opinions), orders, and rules as well as commentary and analysis (LII Supreme Court Bulletin) and links to briefs and oral argument recordings and transcripts.
  • OYEZ: U.S. Supreme Court Media
    The OYEZ Project provides access to more than 3,000 hours of Supreme Court audio recordings of oral argument and opinion announcements as well as other media.
  • C-SPAN America & the Courts: Supreme Court
    Provides links to videos, audio, and special programs on the Supreme Court.
  • The Supreme Court Database, Washington University of Law
    A collection of data, analysis, and documentation, updated every term.