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Researching United States Supreme Court Justices. Law 590-201 Senior Seminar (Supreme Court Decisions) July 5, 2005 James E. Duggan. Why is it important?. Knowing a justice’s background may give you insight into how the justice thinks…

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Researching United States Supreme Court Justices

Law 590-201 Senior Seminar (Supreme Court Decisions)

July 5, 2005

James E. Duggan


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Why is it important?

  • Knowing a justice’s background may give you insight into how the justice thinks…

  • If you know what arguments a justice responds to, you can prepare briefs and oral arguments in an influential way.

  • Unlike juries, you cannot usually pick a court bench. But, you should think how the court views all aspects of your case as you would a jury.


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Potential Predictors of Judicial Decisions

  • How have justices ruled in the past? What alliances have justices formed?

  • How have justices responded to arguments?

  • What questions have justices asked in oral arguments?

  • How have justices responded to briefs?

  • What have justices said in speeches? Other writings? Interviews?


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Potential Predictors of Judicial Decisions

  • Biographical Information

  • Nomination/Confirmation Battles

  • What has been written about the justice

  • Political Science Studies/Supreme Court Forecasting Project

  • Personal Connections/Anecdotal Information


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Getting Started: Researching the Supreme Court

  • Martin & Goehlert, How to Research the Supreme Court (CQ, 1992)

  • Stern, Gressman, Shapiro & Geller: Supreme Court Practice, 8th ed. (CQ, 2002)

  • Epstein, Segal, Spaeth & Walker, The Supreme Court Compendium: Data, Decisions & Development, 2nd ed. (CQ: 1996)


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Getting Started: Researching the Supreme Court

  • Paddock, Facts about the Supreme Court of the United States (H.W. Wilson & Co., 1996)

  • Bader & Mersky, The First One Hundred Eight Justices (W.S. Hein & Co., 2004)


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Getting Started: Researching the Supreme Court

  • Lambert, U.S. Supreme Court Research-Select Internet Sites (on LLRX)

  • Official U.S. Supreme Court Website


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How Have Justices Ruled in the Past?

  • Search for their opinions on LexisNexis & Westlaw

    • LexisNexis: Use Segment Search: Opinionby, Writtenby, Dissentby, Concurby

    • Westlaw: Use Field Search: JU (judge), CON (Concurring), DIS (dissenting)

    • Remember to search for opinions prior to service on Supreme Court; may also want to search for cases they argued as attorneys


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What Alliances Have Justices Formed?

  • LexisNexis and Westlaw Search: Look at who joins the justice in the opinion (concurrence, dissent, etc.)

  • Look at commentary about Court in newspapers, legal journals, etc.

  • See postings on SCOTUSblog (linked from SIU Law Library webpage)


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Justices: Oral Arguments & Responses

  • Look at texts of oral arguments:

    • http://www.supremecourtus.gov/

    • Official transcript proceedings before the Supreme Court of the United States [SIU microform]

    • May it please the court [sound recording] : the most significant oral arguments made before the Supreme Court since 1955

  • OYEZ-U.S. Supreme Court Multimedia


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Briefs

  • LexisNexis & Westlaw

  • http://www.supremecourtus.gov/

  • http://www.abanet.org/publiced/preview/home.html

  • Landmark briefs and arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States (SIU)

  • U. S. Supreme Court records and briefs [microform]


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Speeches, Writings, Interviews

  • Check Index to Legal Periodicals

  • Checks News files on both LexisNexis & Westlaw

  • See Partin’s Supreme Court Research Guide & Bibliography

  • Book Example: Sandra Day O’Connor, The Majesty of the Law (Random House, 2003)

  • Historically, locate papers collections (generally at major universities)


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Biographical Information

  • Friedman and Israel, The Justices of the United States Supreme Court: Their Lives and Major Opinions (Vol. V, Chelsea House, 1995)

  • The American Bench: Judges of the Nation

  • Almanac of the Federal Judiciary

  • Be careful, though…


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Biography Examples

  • Andrew Peyton Thomas, Clarence Thomas: a Biography (Encounter Books, 2001)

  • Nancy Maveety, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Strategist on the Supreme Court (Rowan & Littlefield, 1996)


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Nomination/Confirmation Battles

  • Lots of information surfaces at a confirmation hearing:

    • Newspaper/Media files (LexisNexis/Westlaw)

    • Mersky & Jacobstein, The Supreme Court of the United States : hearings and reports on successful and unsuccessful nominations of Supreme Court Justices by the Senate Judiciary Committee, 1916-1993(W.S. Hein & Co, 1993-1995).


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About the Justice: Books, Articles, etc.

  • Use various indexes/databases to search for materials:

    • OCLC First Search

    • Library Catalogs

    • Periodical Indexes (ILP, LegalTrac, etc.)

    • Silverburg, Index to Law School Theses & Dissertations (W.S. Hein & Co., 1995)

    • Comprehensive Dissertation Index (Law & Political Science; Social Sciences and Humanities)


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About the Justice: Books, Articles, etc. Examples

  • Epstein & Knight, The Choices Justice Make (CQ Press, 1998)

  • Johnson, Oral Arguments and Decision Making on the United States Supreme Court (SUNY Press, 2004)

  • Cooper & Ball, The United States Supreme Court: From the Inside Out (Prentice Hall, 1996)


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About the Justice: Books, Articles, etc. Examples

  • Perry, “The Supremes”: Essays on the Current Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States (Peter Lang, 1999)

  • Clayton & Gillman, Supreme Court Decision Making: New Institutionalist Approaches (University of Chicago Press, 1999)


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About the Justice: Books, Articles, etc. Examples

  • Segal & Spaeth, The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model Revisited (Cambridge University Press, 2002)

  • Savage, Turning Right: The Making of the Rehnquist Supreme Court (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1992).


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Political Science Studies/Forecasting Models

  • See Morris Library’s Social Science Indexes for political science journal articles, etc.



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Personal Connections/Anecdotal Information

  • Who do you know?

    • Clerks/other Employees

    • Attorneys who have argued before the Supreme Court

  • Who can you hire?

    • Georgetown’s Supreme Court Institute


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