Dear U.S. Supreme Court Web Site: Where are Your Briefs?

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NOTE: This post has been updated by a newer post - "Update to 'Dear U.S. Supreme Court Web Site: Where Are Your Briefs'."

It never ceases to amaze me that our own U.S. Supreme Court does not post its briefs at their site, AND also fails to provide information on where to find Supreme Court briefs for free. Instead, the Court’s site tells you to obtain briefs from pay sites such as Lexis and Westlaw, and from Document Retrieval Services. The only free site it does note is one that hasn’t posted any new briefs since 2007, Findlaw.

Dear U.S. Supreme Court website: The ABA Preview of U.S. Supreme Court Cases (http://www.americanbar.org/publications/preview_home/2015_2016_briefs.html) provides the current U.S. Supreme Court term’s merit briefs for free. To find the prior year’s briefs use the same URL as above (http://www.americanbar.org/publications/preview_home/2015_2016_briefs.html) but replace the 2015_2016_ years with 2014_2015_. It appears that the ABA site only goes back one term. If you are reading this after the 2015/2016 term, then replace the 2015_2016_ years with 2016_2017_ (and so on).  As to amicus briefs, the ABA site is not as up-to-date as I would have hoped it would be.

Another site that archives current and older briefs (both merit and amicus) is Scotusblog. Scotusblog archives back to 2007, which is much further back than the ABA’s site. Choose a term to view the list of cases for that term. They will be listed in “sitting order,” so click the link “View this list sorted by case name” to find your case alphabetically. Or, I would recommend you use your Find function (control f for p.c.s and command f for macs) and enter part of the case name into the find box to be taken directly to the listed case. Once you find the case, click on its title. Then you will see a docket sheet displaying the Proceedings and Orders, listed from oldest to newest. On January 5, 2016, I was able to locate an amicus brief filed January 4, 2016, but I really wanted one from January 5, 2016. So for very recent amicus briefs, your best bet is to Google it. In this case, Google successfully located the amicus brief I was looking for - posted by a non-profit agency that was interested in the case, but not a party or one of the amica.

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