March 13, 2018 Historical Supreme Court Cases Now Online

More Than 35,000 Decisions Now Available, Searchable on loc.gov

Press Contact: Brett Zongker, (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Janice Hyde, (202) 707-9836
Website: United States Reports - Supreme Court Cases

More than 225 years of Supreme Court decisions acquired by the Library of Congress are now publicly available online – free to access in a page image format for the first time. The Library has made available more than 35,000 cases that were published in the printed bound editions of United States Reports (U.S. Reports).

United States Reports is a series of bound case reporters that are the official reports of decisions for the United States Supreme Court dating to the court’s first decision in 1791 and to earlier courts that preceded the Supreme Court in the colonial era. The Library’s new online collection offers access to individual cases published in volumes 1-542 of the bound edition. This collection of Supreme Court cases is fully searchable. Filters allow users to narrow their searches by date, name of the justice authoring the opinion, subject and by the main legal concepts at issue in each case. PDF versions of individual cases can be viewed and downloaded.

The collection is online at loc.gov/collections/united-states-reports/.

Landmark cases such as Marbury v. Madison, Brown v. Board of Education and Miranda v. Arizona are all part of the collection, in addition to thousands of other cases that have an impact on the lives of U.S. citizens.

“For the first time, these historical materials will be available online as page images in a searchable format,” Law Librarian of Congress Jane Sánchez said. “The U.S. Reports offer a reflection of important social and cultural issues over time. These historical court cases include decisions that have defined basic constitutional authorities and rights. They are a valuable resource for curious citizens and constitutional law scholars alike.”

Early reports were compiled by private individuals who served as court reporters, a practice that continued until 1874 when publication was assumed by the court itself.  These older court reports, which had been cited by the name of the court reporter who compiled them, were reassigned volume numbers 1-90 in 1874 to produce the current, continuous numbering system of the U.S. Reports. The first volume and a substantial portion of the second volume of the U.S. Reports do not contain decisions of the Supreme Court, but instead include cases heard in various courts of Pennsylvania during the colonial period until 1791.

The digital versions of the U.S. Reports in the new collection were acquired by the Law Library of Congress through a purchase agreement with William S. Hein & Co. Inc. The acquisition is part of the Law Library’s transition to a digital future and in support of its efforts to make historical U.S. public domain legal materials freely and easily available to Congress and the world. Users can access this collection from a link on loc.gov and law.gov.

More recent editions of the U.S. Reports from 1987 to the present are available online from the U.S. Supreme Court.  

The U.S. Reports digital collection augments other legal collections made available online during the past year, including the U.S. Code from 1925 to 1988. Other newly digitized collections include the papers of U.S. Presidents James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce and James K. Polk; and the papers of Alexander Hamilton, Sigmund Freud and Margaret Bayard Smith.

Established by an act of Congress in 1832, the Law Library makes its resources available to members of Congress, the Supreme Court, other branches of the U.S. government and the global legal community, and sustains and preserves a universal collection of law for future generations. With more than 2.9 million volumes, the Law Library contains the world’s largest collection of law books and other resources from all countries and provides online databases and guides to legal information worldwide through its website at loc.gov/law/.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

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PR 18-026
2018-03-13
ISSN 0731-3527