{ subscribe_url: '/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/law.php' }

Historical U.S. Reports Available Online

Following our releases of the Federal Register and United States Code collections, the Library of Congress is pleased to make available the decisions and orders from the United States Reports, from 1754 through 2003.

The U.S. Reports is the collection of bound volumes that contain the official version of the U.S. Supreme Court opinions. The new online collection includes over 35,000 opinions from volumes 1-542 covering the years 1754 through 2003. Later volumes and more current cases may be found at the Supreme Court website by “Bound Volume” or the “Case Citation Finder.”

Screenshot of expanded "U.S. Reports by Volume" and "U.S. reports by Major Case Topic" categories on //www.loc.gov/law/help/us-reports.php

Screenshot of expanded “U.S. Reports by Volume” and “U.S. reports by Major Case Topic” categories on //www.loc.gov/law/help/us-reports.php

Each of the more than 35,000 cases has been tagged with descriptive metadata that allows cases to be accessed, searched, and browsed using the facets on the left side of the search page. To browse the contents of the collection, begin at //www.loc.gov/law/help/us-reports.php. This metadata was created by our intrepid remote volunteers who worked very hard over the summer of 2016 to make the collection so usable. A special thanks to Julie McVey, Jennifer Proctor, Quinn Smith, Sara Hoover, Jenn Parent, Christine Gant and all of the other volunteers who helped to make access to this collection possible!

Screenshot of expanded "U.S. Reports by Authoring Justice" category on //www.loc.gov/law/help/us-reports.php

Screenshot of expanded “U.S. Reports by Authoring Justice” category on //www.loc.gov/law/help/us-reports.php

The collection demonstrates the range of the court’s business including landmark cases, opinions, dissents as well as orders, dismissals, and other routine matters. Interns also uncovered other gems within the volumes that caught their attention:

California v. Hodari D, 499 U.S. 621 (1991), addresses when a seizure of a person can be said to occur, specifically whether it is when a person is told by a police officer to “stop.” Comparing Justice Steven’s dissent in this case to Justice Scalia’s opinion of the court was a criminal procedure class staple!

The opinions and especially the dissents from a motion to vacate a stay of execution of the death sentence in the Rosenberg v. United States case, 346 U.S. 273 (1953) is a noteworthy case. The decision not to stay the execution remains controversial and the subject of much debate.

Ralli v. Troop, 157 U.S. 386 (1895) concerns a fire that took place on a ship in port. At issue was when admiralty law permits life-saving (and port-saving measures) to trump offloading cargo from the ship. It seems that the master of the vessel was more concerned with offloading the cargo of the ship than the safety of the port. This case reads like an adventure novel!

A very early case caught my eye. Moore’s Lessee v. Few, 1 U.S. (1 Dall.) 170 (1786), said that “non-jurors” are persons who have refused to pledge allegiance to the sovereign. In this context, I believe it is someone who has refused to pledge allegiance to the Black’s Law Dictionary!

The U.S. Reports volumes in this collection are numbered 1 through 542, but the first 90 volumes were originally compiled and named by the private individuals who served as court reporters and are often referred to as the nominative reports. The earliest volumes do not contain decisions of the Supreme Court, but include cases heard in various courts of Pennsylvania during the colonial period until 1791.

This collection is made possible through an agreement with William S. Hein & Co., Inc. The agreement precludes bulk downloading and commercial reuse.  This collection joins the Federal Register  and U.S. Code on the website of U.S. public domain materials now freely accessible. The Code of Federal Regulations will join them later in 2018. Please check our digital projects webpage for the current status and for new links when they become available.

An Interview with Catharina Schmidt, Foreign Law Intern

Today’s interview is with Catharina Schmidt, a foreign law intern working with me on research related to the laws of Germany and other German-speaking jurisdictions at the Global Legal Research Directorate, Law Library of Congress.  Describe your background. I am originally from Germany and grew up with my younger sister in the city of Darmstadt, which is located near […]

Pic of the Week – Sports, Law, and Tradition in Hats

The following is a guest post by Peter Roudik, Director of Legal Research at the Law Library of Congress. Peter has previously written for In Custodia Legis on a number of topics related to Russia and the former Soviet Union. These include posts on Assassinations of Russian Ambassadors, A Spring Holiday for Workers, the Soviet Investigation of […]

How to Boost your Medal Count in the Olympics, South Korean-Style

This following is a guest post by Sayuri Umeda, a foreign law specialist who covers Japan and various other countries in East and Southeast Asia, and Jieun Chang, foreign law intern at the Global Legal Research Directorate. Sayuri has previously written posts for In Custodia Legis on various topics, including Two Koreas Separated by Demilitarized Zone, English Translations of Post-World […]

An Interview with Felicia Stephan, Foreign Law Intern

Today’s interview is with Felicia Stephan, a foreign law intern working with Jenny Gesley on research related to the laws of Germany and other German-speaking jurisdictions at the Global Legal Research Directorate, Law Library of Congress.  Describe your background. I am originally from Tübingen, a small town in the south of Germany, where I grew up with […]

The Pyramid of Niches in an 18th Century Legal Gazette

Today, February 5th, is the 101st anniversary of the Mexican Constitution of 1917.  As I have covered the history of the Mexican constitution before, I would like to observe this holiday with another Mexican matter. I have been working on a digitization proposal, and–as I was drafting the narrative and compiling the details for it–I chanced upon this […]

The French National Library – Pic of the Week

The following is a guest post from Nicolas Boring, foreign law specialist covering French speaking jurisdictions at the Law Library of Congress. I recently went back to Paris for a few days and took that opportunity to visit the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), the French national library.  Specifically, I went to the Bibliothèque François Mitterrand […]

2018 Supreme Court Fellows Program Annual Lecture to Feature Justice Clarence Thomas

The Law Library of Congress and the Supreme Court Fellows Program will present A Conversation with The Honorable Clarence Thomas on Thursday, February 15, at 3:30 p.m. in the Library of Congress Coolidge Auditorium. Tickets are free, but registration is required.  Please register via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/conversation-with-the-honorable-clarence-thomas-tickets-41455844547 Professor Gregory E. Maggs of George Washington University Law School will […]