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While Supreme Court opinions have been available on line from Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute (www.law.cornell.edu), the GPO (www.access.gpo.gov) and other sites, on Monday, April 17, the Supreme Court established its own presence on the Internet. The new web site, www.supremecourtus.gov, provides the Court’s bench opinions, as well as other information for attorneys, the press and the general public.
The most looked for information is, of course, the Supreme Court’s opinions. The site currently contains opinions from the court’s 1999 session.
If you need the decision as soon as it is issued, bench opinions, those which are first issued by the court at 10 am, are available from the Government Printing Office at www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/judicial.html. The GPO site has opinions going back to 1937.
A few hours later that day, the slip opinions are issued by the Court and these are posted on its own website. In addition to the majority or plurality decision, all dissenting and concurring opinions are also posted. These slip opinions may contain corrections that were not included in the bench opinions and supersede the bench opinions. The subsequently issued official print versions (U.S. Reports), upon release, take precedence over any earlier printed version and over any electronic form of the decision (Lexis/Nexis, Westlaw, the Supreme Court’s own website.)
The site also has sections relating to general information about the court. A visitor can find a history of the court, the constitutional and legislated basis for the court, a listing of all Justices and their terms of office, a picture gallery of the court building and biographies of the current justices.
The court’s current calendar and schedule are also included. All orders issued by the court, including lists of all cases submitted for review and their outcome, are available through a link to the GPO site. Dockets will be added to the site later, as will speeches given by the Justices. For further information on cases pending before the court, Northwestern University’s Oyez Project (www.oyez.org/oyez/frontpage) provides summaries of the cases as well as copies of briefs filed in them. The Project also has audio files of oral arguments in 600 cases.
Practicing Before the Court
To assist those desiring to be admitted to practice before the court, the site contains the Court’s rules, the procedures and an application for admission to the Supreme Court bar, and guides for filing cases both paid and in forma pauperis. It even gives practical information on what to wear and when and how to get priority service in the Supreme Court cafeteria.