First Monday in October

The first Monday in October brings a breath of autumn and with it, a new term for the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court is statutorily required to thus begin its new annual term (28 U.S.C. § 2 (2006)), although initially the Court’s work was divided into two terms, beginning in February and August (although still on the first Monday of each) (Act to Establish the Judicial Courts of the United States, ch. 20, § 1, 1 Stat. 73, 73 (1789)).

As the highest court in the land, there is a great deal of information available about the Supreme Court’s work, much of which is available directly from the Court. The Court itself provides information about the traditions and procedures of the Court. Transcripts of oral argument are now available on the Court’s website the same day as the arguments are heard, and audio files are available as well. Opinions are also posted here, immediately after they are delivered from the bench. (Older opinions are maintained on the website until bound volumes are available.)

News sources are a great place to get information as the Court’s term progresses. All of the major networks and newspapers provide some Court coverage. NPR’s Nina Totenberg has a weekly update on the Court’s work each Monday, including a Term preview on Morning Edition. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick (and others) offer analysis and commentary in a Jurisprudence column. And, of course, if you like some comedy with your news, don’t forget about The Daily Show, the Colbert Report, and NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me. But much more information is available than ever makes the headlines.

A great source for information about the Court’s term is the SCOTUSblog. This blog posts analysis and commentary on cases, but also hosts docketing information and briefs for upcoming cases, as well as an array of statistics on past Court terms (formerly hosted at the SCOTUSwiki). The Oyez Project provides summaries and docketing information about cases scheduled before the Court. Cornell’s Legal Information Institute has a Supreme Court Bulletin that offers recent decisions and orders, information about the Court, and an archive of cases heard as far back as 1990. The American Bar Association’s Supreme Court Preview offers briefs from all parties for upcoming cases, as well as their scheduling information. (This is a subscription product that PCL users have access to via Hein Online, in addition to partial access via the ABA’s website linked above, and microfiche from 1984-2002.)

More information is available about the Supreme Court of the United States than perhaps on any other court in the world. You just have to know where to look, or who to ask.

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