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.”
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!
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.