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United States Supreme Court Decisions
Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, linked here, provides the best access to cases from 1990 forward. (See Additional Resources below for earlier cases.) The court provides its decisions on-line for the current term and the past several terms. The complete contents of bound volumes of United States Reports, starting with volume 502 (1991), can be downloaded in PDF files (one LARGE file per volume) from the court’s web site. However, the most-recent volume in that collection always is several years behind the current term.
Note — The Supreme Court’s term begins each year on the first Monday in October and ends, usually, in the following June. Opinions (and orders and other documents) issued by the court are published officially in United States Reports (“U.S.” in citations), commonly referred to as “U.S. Reports.” See 28 U.S.C. § 411; see also information about opinions at the court’s web site.
Note — In the first 107 volumes of U.S. Reports (1791–1882) the date on which a given case was decided is not printed in the report of the case. Supreme Court librarians produced a PDF file (168 pages) listing the dates for those cases.
[West Group] — Browse decisions by years (from 1893) or by volumes of U.S. Reports (from 150 U.S. 54); or use one of the following forms to retrieve a case by citation or to search for a case by party name or keywords (search terms are not case-sensitive).
Supreme Court order lists
[Cornell Law Sch. (N.Y.), Legal Information Inst.] — Search a database of actions by the court as described in its regular Monday order lists, beginning with the first order list issued in October 1998 and continuing through the most recent order list issued by the court. Order lists contain information on the cases the court has agreed to hear (cases for which the court “grants certiorari”) or has elected to let stand as they were decided in a lower court (cases in which the court “denies certiorari”) as well as a variety of decisions on procedural matters such as prescribing how cases are to be heard and argued or granting requests concerning the filing of briefs.
Current and recent opinions
- Recent Supreme Court opinions
[Cornell Law Sch. (N.Y.), Legal Information Inst.] — A topical index based on the syllabi is available.
- Summaries for cases in the Supreme Court
[Willamette Univ. Coll. of Law] — For cases from the most recent four years, this service provides same-day summaries of certiorari granted, oral arguments, and decisions published by the Supreme Court. The certiorari summaries focus on the facts and decision from the lower court. The week prior to oral arguments, the service provides an outline of the issues presented to the court as argued in the briefs. The decision summaries provide the holding from the court and a brief overview of the court’s reasoning. A search function is provided. A free e-mail subscription is available (to receive the summaries by e-mail).
- Selected historic Supreme Court opinions
[Cornell Law Sch. (N.Y.), Legal Information Inst.] — More than 600 historically important cases, accessible by topics, party names, and opinion authors, beginning with Georgia v. Brailsford, 3 U.S. 1 (1794).
- Supreme Court opinions (1937–1975)
[U.S. Dep’t of Commerce, NTIS] — Cases from 300 U.S. 1 through 422 U.S., in ASCII files. These are difficult to read because TEXTS ARE ALL UPPERCASE.
- “Seminal Supreme Court Cases Regarding Federal Indian Law”
[Wisconsin Judicare, Inc.] — Links (to the FindLaw database; see above) for the texts of “many of the Supreme Court decisions which have shaped and influenced Indian Law. These cases are listed in chronological order.”
[Cornell Law Sch. (N.Y.), Legal Information Inst.] — Free subscription to receive periodic e-mailed collections of case syllabi (prepared by the Reporter of Decisions) promptly after decisions are issued.
- Government briefs
[U.S. Dep’t of Justice] — A collection of briefs filed by the Solicitor General (except in response to in forma pauperis petitions) in cases in the Supreme Court.
- Supreme Court oral arguments, judgments, and opinions
[Northwestern Univ. (Ill.)] — Audio files in RealAudio format (which requires a free downloadable player as a browser plug-in), for selected cases, providing actual oral argument as well as judgment and opinions as delivered in the courtroom.
United States Courts of Appeals Decisions
See also special courts’ decisions, below. See a table of the federal judicial circuits showing each court’s location (city) and included districts (states).
- Decisions — Court Web Sites
- Regular Decisions:
- Bankruptcy Appellate Panels:
- Decisions — Other Sources
- Google Scholar
This is a search interface. Select “Case law” then the desired court(s) before starting a search. Enter a citation — which must be to the first page of a case report — or a party’s name, and a link to the desired case report is returned. Text searching also is possible. The search results include links to later case reports in which the targeted case is cited. In the targeted case report, page breaks from the original printed volume are indicated, at the level of a line of text (which makes this source useful for serious legal research). In many instances, links also are provided, within the case report being examined, to reports of cases that are cited in it.
This web site provides the first series of Federal Reporter (F.), but the files are difficult to deal with. All of the case reports fail to indicate page breaks in the original printed volume. Also available are very large compressed files, in “tar.bz2” format, of the second series (F.2d) and part of the third series (through 491 F.3d, mid-2007).
Courts of appeals decisions
[West Group (FindLaw)] — Cases can be found by party names, by docket number, or by month-and-year of decision; but cases cannot be retrieved by citation (e.g., “73 F.3d 1”). Free access goes back through the mid-1990s (varies slightly by circuit). There is a text-search function.
Third Circuit decisions
[Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law (Pa.)] — This covers decisions issued from May 1994 forward.
Summaries of cases in the Ninth Circuit
[Willamette Univ. Coll. of Law (Ore.)] — Summaries of opinions in cases decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, from 2004 forward. A free e-mail subscription is available, to receive updates regarding new summaries.
United States District Court Decisions
[See the page for the state or territory where the court sits: use a selection list above.]
U.S. district court opinions and orders
[Justia, Inc. (Cal.)] — This web page enables searching for cases and orders by party names as well as by keywords in texts. The database covers cases and orders from district courts throughout the United States, in the period from January 1, 2004, to the current date, as well as a few cases from preceding years back to 2000.
[U.S. District Court, Middle Dist. of Pa.] — Information on selected recent rulings of various judges, on U.S. district courts in several states, who have elected to make information available in this form.
District courts — civil cases database (1987–2000)
[Theodore Eisenberg & Kevin M. Clermont, Cornell Law Sch. (N.Y.)] — Searchable database of various statistical facts (not the actual facts in the cases) derived from civil cases concluded in all of the U.S. district courts up to 2000, beginning with 1978 (for cases with completed trials) or 1987 (all cases).
Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER)
[Administrative Off. of the U.S. Courts] — How to obtain case information and dockets, downloadable for a fee, directly from the courts (including bankruptcy courts).
United States Special Court Decisions
See a table of former special federal courts and the current successor courts.
United States Constitution
This link retrieves a PDF version published by the House of Representatives as H.R. Doc. 108-95 (June 20, 2003). It contains an index and includes the texts of proposed amendments not ratified.
Alternative on-line versions
[Cornell Law Sch. (N.Y.), Legal Information Inst.]
[Nat’l Archives & Records Admin. (D.C.)] — Original text showing which portions have been superseded by amendments (with hyperlinks to the amendments). Includes biographical sketches of the signers and other delegates to the convention; graphical images of the original four pages and letter of transmittal; a description of the constitutional convention; FAQs about the constitution; and links to the Bill of Rights and the other amendments, as well as the Declaration of Independence.
[Nat’l Constitution Center (Pa.)]
[USConstitution.net (Vt.)] — This web site presents the text in several ways. In addition, it presents considerable information about the Constitution, including a page devoted to some popular misconceptions about what is (and is not) in the text.
Annotations linked here were written by the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and include citations to relevant Supreme Court decisions. (Some of the Constitution’s provisions and amendments have no annotations.) The annotated Constitution is published under the title Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation, popularly called the Constitution Annotated. See also links to other commentary on the Constitution, including The Federalist.
- Constitution Annotated
[Library of Congress] — This is a collection of regularly updated PDF files, one for each article and each amendment. The analysis is reasonably current. Also available are an index and a table of cited cases.
- Constitution Annotated
[Gov’t Publ’g Off. (D.C.)] — PDF files covering the current edition and previous complete editions (starting with the 1992 edition) of the Constitution Annotated together with biennial supplements.
- Constitution Annotated
[Cornell Law Sch. (N.Y.), Legal Information Inst.] — Well-formatted HTML presentation of the 1992 edition (as supplemented biennially) with hyperlinks to sources cited in annotations.
- Constitution Annotated
[West Group (FindLaw)] — Well-formatted HTML presentation of the 1992 edition (as supplemented biennially) with hyperlinks to sources cited in annotations.
- Proposed amendments not ratified
[Library of Congress] — This is a section from the Constitution Annotated presenting texts of unratified amendments. “During the course of our history, in addition to the 27 amendments that have been ratified by the required three-fourths of the States, six other amendments have been submitted to the States but have not been ratified by them. [¶] Beginning with the proposed Eighteenth Amendment, Congress has customarily included a provision requiring ratification within seven years from the time of the submission to the States. The Supreme Court in Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433 (1939), declared that the question of the reasonableness of the time within which a sufficient number of States must act is a political question to be determined by the Congress.”
Supreme Court constitutional decisions
[Library of Congress] — This is a section from the Constitution Annotated, citing decisions of the Supreme Court based on constitutional grounds, classified in the following categories:
Constitution in downloadable file
[U.S. Coast Guard Chief Counsel]
[Ria Press (location unknown)] — The text along with the first 10 amendments (Bill of Rights), specially formatted for printing.
United States Legislation
Codified laws are in the United States Code, linked below.
Bill records are available from 1973 (93rd Congress) to the present. The full texts of bills are available from 1989 (101st Congress). Amendment records are available from 1981 (97th Congress), and full texts of amendments are available from 1995 (104th Congress), to the present. The legislation collection is updated the morning after a session adjourns. See Coverage Dates for Legislative Information for more information.
- Public Laws
An enacted bill or joint resolution appears on the Congress.gov web site after the National Archives and Records Administration assigns a public-law number (Pub. L. No.). That number becomes a link, on Congress.gov, to the official text after publication by the Government Publication Office. (See also links to private laws, which are rarely enacted.)
- Browse Public Laws
Texts of public laws are available starting with the 104th Congress (1995–1996). Limited information (sometimes including texts as enrolled, but no official texts as enacted) can be obtained for laws of the 93rd Congress (1973–1974) through the 103rd Congress (1993–1994). A drop-down list serves as a Congress-to-years conversion chart.
- Search Public Laws
To search for keywords in texts of public laws, use the quick search form or the advanced search form that also covers bills (see above).
Retrieve the text of a particular public law. If this form returns an error, it indicates that the text has not yet been published by the Government Publication Office. In that case, if a public-law number has been assigned, try the browsing option, above; or when no public-law number has been assigned, try looking at the bill record, above.
Note: Statutes at Large — Public laws enacted by Congress (and the few occasional private laws) are published officially in United States Statutes at Large (“Stat.” in citations; “Statutes at Large” informally) by the National Archives and Records Administration. See an explanation, “About Public and Private Laws,” on the GPO web site. See also lists showing bill number, public law number, name of act, approval date, and Statutes at Large page citation and span (but no text links), for both the current session and also past sessions back through Pub. L. No. 103-1 (1993). There is also a Wikipedia article.
Note: Revised Statutes — An historical outline and source notes for United States statutes, prepared by Richard J. McKinney, Assistant Law Librarian for the Federal Reserve Board, shows how the process of publishing federal statutes has changed over time since 1789. Volume 18 of the Statutes at Large (1878) contains, in part I, the Revised Statutes of the United States (“R.S.” in official citations or “Rev. Stat.” unofficially; “Revised Statutes” informally), which was a compilation of all federal laws as of December 1, 1873, with amendments enacted in 1874–1877. It was the precursor of the United States Code. (See a Wikipedia article.) Some provisions in the Revised Statutes were not carried into the United States Code; Acts of Congress can occasionally include a citation to the Revised Statutes when amending one of those provisions. The Library of Congress provides images of all 1,394 pages of the Revised Statutes contained in part I of volume 18 of the Statutes at Large, including an index.
Note — See also selected commentary on U.S. legislation linked on another page.
United States Statutes at Large, volumes 1–18 (1789–1875)
[Library of Congress] — These are available as digital facsimile images accompanied by searchable indexes and page headings.
United States Statutes at Large, volumes 65 et seq. (1951 to present)
[Gov’t Publ’g Off. (D.C.)]
Popular name table
[Cornell Law Sch. (N.Y.), Legal Information Inst.] — List of popular names of federal acts (e.g., the Securities Act of 1933, or the Trademark Act) and codified statutes, with appropriate links.
[Gov’t Publ’g Off. (D.C.)] — The GPO database of bill texts, from the 103rd Congress (1993–1994) forward, can be browsed or searched.
- United States Code
Use this selection list to retrieve an individual title of the code, or an appendix to a title. A title in red (excluding the title’s appendix if any) has been enacted into positive law (see the note in Additional Resources below).
- The “Bankruptcy Code” is title 11; its appendix contains the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.
- The “Internal Revenue Code” (I.R.C.) is title 26.
- The “Uniform Code of Military Justice” (U.C.M.J.) starts at 10 U.S.C. § 801.
- The following titles are reserved: 34 (formerly covered the navy), 53 (small business), 55, 56 (wildlife).
Use this form to retrieve a specific code section. (Titles 34, 53, 55, and 56 are reserved.)
The House of Representatives web site, which is linked through the forms above, presents code versions from the 1994 main edition forward to the current version. A single page incorporates both a text-search form (choose “Advanced Search” to search code editions prior to the current edition) and also a citation retrieval form, along with a browsable list of titles.
Note — Most public laws are reflected in the United States Code (“U.S.C.” in citations; “U.S. Code” informally), which is a topical compilation, in more than 50 titles, of the major part of Congressional legislation. See an explanatory comment on the code by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel in the House of Representatives, including dates for the current supplements to the most-recent edition of the code. See also a Wikipedia article. Cornell Law School’s LII database automatically provides access to amendments from Pub. L. No. 104-1 (1995) forward. The texts of the code titles that have been enacted into positive law (see the drop-down selection list, above) constitute legal evidence of the law contained in those titles. The remaining titles of the code are prima facie evidence of the laws contained in them; the laws themselves constitute the legal (unimpeachable) evidence of their content. See 1 U.S.C. § 204. There is a plan to enact additional titles into positive law, raising the number of separate titles in the code to 56 (or more).
U.S. Code titles and chapters
[U.S. House of Representatives, Off. of the Law Revision Counsel] — Download a title in a zipped text file; or download any chapter in a title as a plain-text file.
Uniform Code of Military Justice
- Uniform Code of Military Justice
[Coast Guard Chief Counsel] — Alternative version.
- Uniform Code of Military Justice — Legislative History
[Library of Congress, Federal Research Div.] — This web site is intended to be “a comprehensive legislative history of one of the principal documents of military law,” which “will provide many related and supporting historical materials that not only document the development of the UCMJ, but that can also be used to argue legislative intent.”
- Military Legal Resources
[Library of Congress, Federal Research Div.] — Links to selected primary source materials and publications in the field of military law.
Appendices to U.S. Code titles
- Title 50, Appendix, War and National Defense
This appendix has been eliminated. For disposition of provisions of the former appendix, in both title 50 and other titles, see Table II and editorial notes set out preceding section 1 of Title 50. Provisions that appeared under the heading “Proclamations, Executive Orders, Joint Resolutions and Treaties Respecting War, Neutrality and Peace” in material preceding section 1 of the former appendix now can be found under the same heading in material preceding section 1 of title 50.
- Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
This act, formerly found in 50 U.S.C. App. § 501 et seq., now is codified at 50 U.S.C. § 3901 et seq. (chapter 50 of title 50). The act was formerly titled the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940; it was renamed and reorganized in 2003 [see Pub. L. No. 108-189 (Dec. 19, 2003)].
United States Rules of Court — Procedure and Practice
The Administrative Office of the Courts provides access to current (pending) and past rules amendments. On-line versions of court rules might not reflect the most-recent amendments. The AOC site should always be checked.
Procedure and Practice
- Court Rules
- Supreme Court (e.g., U.S. Sup. Ct. R. [no.])
The Court provides its rules in PDF files. The Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School provides the rules in HTML files, together with a search function.
- Circuit Courts of Appeal:
- Rules of Procedure:
“Federal Rules of Practice and Procedure”
[Administrative Off. of the U.S. Courts] — Giving a comprehensive view of amendment activity, this site “provides access to the national and local rules currently in effect in the federal courts, as well as background information on the federal rules and the rulemaking process.”
“Bankruptcy Rules Made Easy” (2001)
[Administrative Off. of the U.S. Courts / Christopher M. Klein] — This article (3.8 MB), from American Bankruptcy Law Journal, is subtitled: “A Guide to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure That Apply in Bankruptcy.”
See also the Manual for Courts-Martial linked on another page.
- Army Judge Advocate General Regulations 27-1 et seq.
- Army Regulation 27-10 (11 May 2016), “Military Justice” (1.3 MB)
- Criminal Law Deskbook (2010): vol. 1, “Procedure” (12.3 MB); vol. 2, “Crimes and Defenses” (2.8 MB)
[Library of Congress] — “The Criminal Law Department at The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, US Army, (TJAGLCS) produces this deskbook as a resource for Judge Advocates, both in training and in the field, and for use by other military justice practitioners. This deskbook covers many aspects of military justice, including procedure (Volume I) and substantive criminal law (Volume II). Military justice practitioners and military justice managers are free to reproduce as many paper copies as needed.”
- “Rules of Practice Before Army Courts-Martial”
These rules can be found in Military Judges’ Benchbook, Appendix G.
United States International Law
See also a guide to electronic resources for international law, provided by the American Society of International Law.
- Treaties in Force
[U.S. State Dep’t, Off. of Treaty Affairs] — This link opens a page showing the table of contents of PDF files lists of treaties and other international agreements of the United States in force as of January 1, 2000.
- Private International Law Database
[U.S. State Dep’t, Off. of the Legal Adviser, Assistant Legal Adviser for Private International Law] — For specific subject areas, as of January 20, 2001, this site shows (1) multilateral conventions in force for the United States, for which the United States has deposited an instrument of ratification, (2) multilateral conventions under consideration with respect to eventual ratification and passage of domestic implementing legislation, (3) significant multilateral treaties and conventions not ratified by the United States, and (4) other international instruments, such as model laws, agreed principles, and guides. “The purpose of this web site is to provide a convenient location to find treaties in force for the United States, other international instruments, and information on current negotiations and projects covering the private international law of such areas as trade and commerce, finance and banking, trusts and estates, family and children matters, and international judicial assistance.
This web site also offers a convenient location to find links to the web sites maintained by the major intergovernmental organizations concerned with the unification and development of private international law
.” See also the web site of the Hague Conference on Private International Law for texts of all conventions on private international law.
Legislative Activity on Treaties
[U.S. Senate] — Information on treaties received, treaties on the executive calendar, treaties approved, and other treaty status actions, by the Senate in the current session of Congress.
Digest of Treaties of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Treaties between the United States and other countries, on subjects connected with functions of the Fish and Wildlife Service, are briefly described, and various related sources (such as public laws implementing treaties) are cited, but links to treaty texts and related sources are not provided.
United States Administrative Law Sources
- Codification of Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders (1945–1989)
[National Archives & Records Admin.] — The Office of the Federal Register presents this online version of the Codification of Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders, April 13, 1945, through January 20, 1989. The paper version of this publication is out of print. This codification provides, in one reference source, proclamations and executive orders with general applicability and continuing effect. It covers April 13, 1945, through January 20, 1989, spanning the administrations of Harry S. Truman through Ronald Reagan.
Disposition of Executive Orders of the President (E.O.)
[National Archives & Records Admin.] — Starting with E.O. 7532 (Jan. 8, 1937) by Pres. Franklin Roosevelt, these tables contain locator information (Federal Register citation), current status, and other information about executive orders. Some of the more-recent executive orders can be accessed through links. Note that access is available (see below on this page) to issues of the Federal Register back through volume 59 (1994).
Compilation of Presidential Documents
[National Archives & Records Admin.] — The Compilation of Presidential Documents is published weekly by the Office of the Federal Register. It contains statements, messages, and other Presidential materials released by the White House. For 2009 and later years, materials are available also in electronic format on a daily basis.
Internal Revenue Service
This category includes orders and decisions. For additional opinions, orders, and decisions, see a collection of links to federal administrative decisions and other actions at the University of Virginia School of Law.
Administrative Procedural Rules:
This category includes rules of practice and judicial rules.
- Federal Regulations
“The Federal Register Tutorial”
[Off. of the Federal Register / National Archives & Records Admin.] — Subtitled “The Federal Register: What It Is and How to Use It,” this tutorial covers (1) historical background and legal basis of the Federal Register / Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) publication system, (2) the regulatory process and the role of the public, (3) organization of the daily Federal Register and important elements of typical documents, (4) proposed rules, rules, notices, and presidential documents, (5) organization of the C.F.R. and the relationships among public laws, the Federal Register, and the C.F.R., and (6) research tools to find information in print and online publications.
“On this U.S. Government Web site you can find, view, and comment on regulations and other actions for all federal agencies.”
[Cornell Law Sch. (N.Y.), Legal Information Inst.] — Interface for browsing the Code of Federal Regulations.
Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules
This LARGE FILE (almost 1MB), or a smaller PDF version, contains tables listing rulemaking authority (except 5 U.S.C. § 301) for regulations codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, including statutory citations that are noted as being interpreted or applied by those regulations. Use this table to find C.F.R. links to U.S.C. citations, Statutes at Large citations (browser-search for “Statutes at Large:” — listed from 7 Stat. forward, but coverage is spotty), public law citations (browser-search for “Public Laws:” — listed by law number only, from 80-806 forward, but coverage is spotty), and executive orders and miscellaneous presidential documents (browser-search for “Presidential Documents:”). Note that the C.F.R. links for a U.S.C. citation can be specifically extracted through Cornell Law School’s LII web site, by first viewing the code section there (see the form above for U.S.C. citations).
Search C.F.R. Section Headings
[Cornell Law Sch. (N.Y.), Legal Information Inst.] — Hits are displayed in the context of section headings grouped under the “Part”-level heading (that is, all of the headings within one part are displayed).
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