Briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court are available in print, microfiche/film, on commercial online legal research services, and on the Internet. The Law Library is also a depository for print briefs; however, the collection is not complete. It does not contain all briefs for all cases, such as memorandum cases or cases denying certiorari. The U.S. Supreme Court Library has the most complete collection of Supreme Court briefs and the Clerk’s Office maintains complete sets of records and briefs for the current term. Contact the reference desk for more information.
For more recent cases, the Supreme Court’s website is an excellent place to start, as it provides information on cases pending on the docket, schedules of oral arguments, slip opinions from the Court, and other relevant information. You may also wish to consult US Law Week, which publishes a record of the Supreme Court proceedings and other developments, and the SCOTUS blog, which tracks the activities of the Court in both editorial and statistical reports. For older cases, the U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs database from the Making of Modern Law is a great resource, albeit selective in its coverage.
The original complaint is often, by not always, filed as part of the appendix that is filed with the Supreme Court. Traditionally, this is not included in microfiche sets as it tends to be very long. We suggest consulting the online services first to find the appendix.
The Making Of Modern Law: U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs. Location: Law Library databases (network restricted). Selective coverage from 1832 – 1978.
LexisNexis: U.S. Supreme Court Briefs 1979 – date
Findlaw: Supreme Court Briefs 1999 – date. (free)
Westlaw’s Briefs Multibase: has selected briefs from the U.S. Supreme Court. PDF images may be available for selected documents in this database. A PDF Image may include additional appendix materials. PDF briefs with appendices will be noted by the link “Original Image of this Document with Appendix”.
Briefs of the Office of the Solicitor General. Merits briefs (1982 – 1985); Merit briefs and responses (1986 – 1990); Merit briefs an responses (1993 – 1996); all filings except In Forma Pauperis responses (July 1998 - date)
Landmark Briefs and Arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States. Location: (L5) KF101.8 .K87. Select briefs published roughly two years following the decision. 1793 – date.
Supreme Court of the United States Records and Briefs. Location: UES Top Shelves. From 1925 – 1980.
Supreme Court of the United States Records and Briefs. Past three years of briefs filed on UES top shelves, shelved by docket number. Prior to that, briefs are located at LSF – call number: BRIEFS and the docket number. (Contact a Reference Librarian for more assistance). Coverage from 2000 – date.
Microfiche and Film:
United States Supreme Court Records and Briefs. Location: Library Shelving Facility, place “request” to have film delivered to the circulation desk or Contact a Reference Librarian for assistance. Briefs from 1832 – 1886.
Supreme Court of the United States Records and Briefs. Location: UES. Use the fiche guide for cabinet information. Film arranged by U.S. Reports citation until 1972, since 1973 it is arranged by docket number. Briefs from 1897 – date.