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US Supreme Court Records and Briefs

The Law School Library has an excellent collection of U.S. Supreme Court records and briefs. From 1975 to date, the Law Library's holdings of argued and unargued cases are comprehensive.

1793-1978 Supreme Court Records & Briefs online
1793-1974 Landmark Briefs and Arguments book
1974-1975 All argued cases microfiche
1975-date All argued and non-argued cases microfiche
1953-date Oral argument transcripts microfiche

Items in microfiche can be reproduced in paper or microfiche formats (inquire at Reference Desk). Each copy reproduced is 10 cents. All of the materials noted above are housed in the Microforms Room.

The following descriptions of specific holdings are intended to facilitate use of the collection:

Collections of Briefs

Landmark Briefs and Arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States 1793-1974 (Microform Room): This 80-volume set, published by University Publications of America, Inc., contains documentation of the U.S. Supreme Court's major constitutional cases selected by University of Chicago law professors Philip B. Kurland and Gerhard Casper. These materials are for use in the library. An alphabetical index of cases included in this set is located at the end of the collection.

Law Reprints: U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs 1974-75 through 1979-80 term (Microform Room): The microfiche are filed by docket number within the term of court in which a decision was rendered. (The term begins in October. Hence, a case decided in March 1978 would be filed with other cases of the 1977-78 term.)

IHS and CIS: U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs 1980-Date (Microform Room): The Law library's IHS and CIS microfiche are filed by the term of court in which a decision was rendered, by category of case (certiorari denied, summary disposition, or full opinion), and by docket number within these categories. Briefs are sent in approximately 14 shipments per term.

Complete Oral Arguments Of The Supreme Court Of The United States, 1953-Date (Microform Room): The Law Library receives complete transcripts of oral arguments in microfiche. A bound index, placed on top the microfiche cabinet, provides access by docket number and by case name for the 1953-1986 terms. For the 1988 term to date there are index cards filed behind the index tab for each term.

Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases (K 16 .R484): is a service that strives to "concisely and clearly analyze all cases given plenary review by the Court during the present term." Prepared by law professors, the analyses include the issues, facts, analysis, significance and contact information for each case previewed. Washburn Law Library's holding are complete since 1981. Current issues are on reserve.

Locating Needed Materials

Your use of the U.S. Supreme Court briefs collection will be made easier if you know the following information about a particular case:

  • Docket number
  • Name of case
  • Term of court decided
  • Type of case (cert. denied, full opinion, summary disposition)

If you have only part of this information, check at the Reference Desk for assistance in obtaining the rest of it. Note that since our filing system is based on docket number within term of court, that information is most critical.

To obtain a docket number when the case name is known, several approaches can be taken:

If the citation to the reported decision is known, look up the case in United States Reports, Supreme Court Reporter or United States Supreme Court Reports to obtain the docket number, term of court, and type of case.

If the citation to the reported decision is not known, consult the table of cases in one of the following sources to obtain the cite so that you can look up the case:

  • U.S. Supreme Court Digest (L. Ed.) (Law Ref KF 101.1 .A313)
  • United States Supreme Court Digest (West) (Stack 311 Third Floor)

What If the Briefs You Need Are Not in the Collection?

If you need briefs from a case that are not available in the library or on various electronic resources, check with a Reference Librarian. For older briefs, librarians may be able to interlibrary loan breifs from a Mid-America Law School Library Consortium Library. For pending U.S. Supreme Court cases, the library has access to a fee-based research service that receives copies of briefs within a week after filing with the U.S. Supreme Court. Also, it may be possible to obtain briefs from counsel.


Supreme Court Records & Briefs: Available to Washburn University students, faculty, & staff. Provides full text searching of Supreme Court Records and Briefs from 1832-1978.

Oyez Project: Maintained by Chicago-Kent College of Lawss this web site contains audio files of oral arguments since 1955.

Cornell University's Legal Information Institute: Provides synopses (syllabi) of decisions prepared by the Reporter of Decisions of the U. S. Supreme Court via email.

WashLaw Supreme Court compiles links to websites that contain U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

United States Law Week Supreme Court Today, an extensive U.S. Supreme Court case tracking service (paid subscription), is available by contacting a librarian at the Reference Desk.

LEXIS: filings for U.S. Supreme Court cases argued beginning with the October 1979 term are found in: Cases – U.S. — U.S. Supreme Court Briefs.

Transcripts of oral arguments can be found on Lexis in: Federal Legal – U.S. — Supreme Court Cases & Materials — United States Supreme Court Transcripts

WESTLAW: Merits and Amicus Briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court are available for cases in which cert has been granted or probable jurisdiction has been noted and for which oral arguments have been scheduled. Merits Briefs beginning with the 1990-91 term and Amicus briefs starting with the 1995-96 term are contained in: All Databases — U.S. Federal Materials — Briefs — Supreme Court Briefs.

Transcripts of oral arguments are available since the 1990 term in: U.S. Federal Materials — Federal Cases & Judicial Materials — Judicial Materials — U.S. Supreme Court Databases — Transcripts of U.S. Supreme Court Oral Arguments.

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