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Researching and Locating Supreme Court Materials

Overview

This page identifies how to locate recent slip opinions, preliminary prints, and opinions published in the United States Reports (official case reporter) and in unofficial case reporters. 

This page also provides information on how to conduct segment/field searching through Supreme Court opinions in Westlaw and Lexis Advance in order to narrow your search results.

Slip Opinions

Preliminary Prints

United States Reports (Official Case Reporter)

The official case reporter for Supreme Court cases is the United States Reports.  However, the bound volumes of the United States Reports are not published as quickly as the bound volumes of the unofficial case reporters.  

More information about the bound volumes is found on the United States Supreme Court website:  https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/boundvolumes.aspx ("Only the printed bound volumes of the United States Reports contain the final, official opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States. In case of discrepancies between a bound volume and . . . any other version of the same materials, whether print or electronic, official or unofficial--the printed bound volume controls.")

Unofficial Case Reporters

Supreme Court opinions that have not yet been published in the United States Reports can be found on Westlaw and Lexis Advance.  Opinions in these databases will have a citation to an unofficial case reporter (Supreme Court Reporter on Westlaw or U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Lawyer's Edition on Lexis Advance) as well as a parallel citation to the United States Reports (if available).

These unofficial case reporter versions of opinions may contain helpful annotations (for example, Key Numbers, headnotes, etc.).

Segment/Field Searching through Supreme Court Opinions in Westlaw and Lexis Advance

Remember to utilize segment/field searching to narrow your search (for example, dissenting opinions by a particular justice).  

Westlaw

From the Westlaw homepage, under "Browse," select "Cases" under "All Content."  

Next, select "U.S. Supreme Court":

Next, click on "Advanced" near the search bar:

Then, click on the image of the opinion:

This links you to a document that identifies the advanced search fields available (for example, synopsis):

You can then search by any fields of interest:

Lexis Advance

From the Lexis Advance homepage, under "Explore Content," select "Cases" under "Content Type":

Next, select "U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Lawyers' Edition":

You will then see an Advanced Search screen.  You can select "Segment Examples":

You can then search by any fields of interest: