United States Reports

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Volumes of the United States Reports on the shelf at a law library Unitedstatesreports.jpg
Volumes of the United States Reports on the shelf at a law library

The United States Reports are the official record (law reports) of the Supreme Court of the United States. They include rulings, orders, case tables (list of every case decided), in alphabetical order both by the name of the petitioner (the losing party in lower courts) and by the name of the respondent (the prevailing party below), and other proceedings. United States Reports, once printed and bound, are the final version of court opinions and cannot be changed. Opinions of the court in each case are prepended with a headnote prepared by the Reporter of Decisions, and any concurring or dissenting opinions are published sequentially. The Court's Publication Office oversees the binding and publication of the volumes of United States Reports, although the actual printing, binding, and publication are performed by private firms under contract with the United States Government Publishing Office.

Contents

Citation

For lawyers, citations to United States Reports are the standard reference for Supreme Court decisions. Following The Bluebook , a commonly accepted citation protocol, the case Brown, et al., v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, for example, would be cited as:

Brown v. Bd. of Educ., 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

This citation indicates that the decision of the Court in the case entitled Brown v. Board of Education, as abbreviated in Bluebook style, was decided in 1954 and can be found in volume 347 of the United States Reports starting on page 483.

History

The early volumes of the United States Reports were originally published privately by the individual Supreme Court Reporters. As was the practice in England, the reports were designated by the names of the reporters who compiled them: Dallas's Reports, Cranch's Reports, etc.

The decisions appearing in the entire first volume and most of the second volume of United States Reports are not decisions of the United States Supreme Court. Instead, they are decisions from various Pennsylvania courts, dating from the colonial period and the first decade after Independence. Alexander Dallas, a lawyer and journalist, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had been in the business of reporting these cases for newspapers and periodicals. He subsequently began compiling his case reports in a bound volume, which he called Reports of cases ruled and adjudged in the courts of Pennsylvania, before and since the Revolution. [1] This would come to be known as the first volume of Dallas Reports.

When the United States Supreme Court, along with the rest of the new Federal Government moved, in 1791, from New York City to the nation's temporary capital in Philadelphia, Dallas was appointed the Supreme Court's first unofficial, and unpaid, Supreme Court Reporter. (Court reporters in that age received no salary, but were expected to profit from the publication and sale of their compiled decisions.) Dallas continued to collect and publish Pennsylvania decisions in a second volume of his Reports. When the Supreme Court began hearing cases, he added those cases to his reports, starting towards the end of the second volume, 2 Dallas Reports, with West v. Barnes (1791). Dallas went on to publish a total of four volumes of decisions during his tenure as Reporter.

When the Supreme Court moved to Washington, D.C. in 1800, Dallas remained in Philadelphia, and William Cranch took over as unofficial reporter of decisions. In 1817, Congress made the Reporter of Decisions an official, salaried position, [2] although the publication of the Reports remained a private enterprise for the reporter's personal gain. The reports themselves were the subject of an early copyright case, Wheaton v. Peters , in which former reporter Henry Wheaton sued then current reporter Richard Peters for reprinting cases from Wheaton's Reports in abridged form.

In 1874, the U.S. government began to fund the reports' publication (18  Stat.   204), creating the United States Reports. The earlier, private reports were retroactively numbered volumes 1–90 of the United States Reports, starting from the first volume of Dallas Reports. [3] Therefore, decisions appearing in these early reports have dual citation forms: one for the volume number of the United States Reports; and one for the set of nominate reports. For example, the complete citation to McCulloch v. Maryland is 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316 (1819).

See also

Related Research Articles

Case citation A system for uniquely identifying individual rulings of a court

Case citation is a system used by legal professionals to identify past court case decisions, either in series of books called reporters or law reports, or in a neutral style that identifies a decision regardless of where it is reported. Case citations are formatted differently in different jurisdictions, but generally contain the same key information.

Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States

The Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States is the official charged with editing and publishing the opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States, both when announced and when they are published in permanent bound volumes of the United States Reports. The Reporter of Decisions is responsible for only the contents of the United States Reports issued by the Government Printing Office, first in preliminary prints and later in the final bound volumes. The Reporter is not responsible for the editorial content of unofficial reports of the Court's decisions, such as the privately published Supreme Court Reporter or Lawyers' Edition.

Wheaton v. Peters, 33 U.S. 591 (1834), was the first United States Supreme Court ruling on copyright. The case upheld the power of Congress to make a grant of copyright protection subject to conditions and rejected the doctrine of a common law copyright in published works. The Court also declared that there could be no copyright in the Court's own judicial decisions.

Richard Peters, Jr. was an American attorney and the fourth reporter of decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving from 1828 to 1843.

The Federal Reporter is a case law reporter in the United States that is published by West Publishing and a part of the National Reporter System. It begins with cases decided in 1880; pre-1880 cases were later retroactively compiled by West Publishing into a separate reporter, Federal Cases. The third and current Federal Reporter series publishes decisions of the United States courts of appeals and the United States Court of Federal Claims; prior series had varying scopes that covered decisions of other federal courts as well. Though West is a private company that does not have a legal monopoly over the court opinions it publishes, it has so dominated the industry in the United States that legal professionals, including judges, uniformly cite to the Federal Reporter for included decisions. It is estimated that the Fourth Series of the Federal Reporter will begin sometime around 2025. The United States Reports are the official law reports of the rulings, orders, case tables, and other proceedings of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Federal Appendix is a case law reporter published by West Publishing. It publishes judicial opinions of the United States courts of appeals that have not been expressly selected or designated for publication. Such "unpublished" cases are ostensibly without value as precedent. However, the Supreme Court made a change to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure in 2006. Now, Rule 32.1 says that federal circuit courts are not allowed to prohibit the citation of unpublished opinions issued on or after January 1, 2007.

The Federal Supplement is a case law reporter published by West Publishing in the United States that includes select opinions of the United States district courts, and is part of the National Reporter System. Though West is a private company that does not have a legal monopoly over the court opinions it publishes, it has so dominated the industry in the U.S. that legal professionals uniformly cite the Federal Supplement for included decisions. The Federal Reporter series publishes opinions of the United States Courts of Appeal and the United States Court of Federal Claims; prior series had varying scopes that covered opinions of other federal courts as well. The United States Reports are the official law reports of the rulings, orders, case tables, and other proceedings of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Lessee of Hyam v. Edwards, is the title of two separate decisions of the Pennsylvania Provincial Court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. The first decision is found at 1 U.S. 1 (1759) and is the first decision that appears in the first volume of United States Reports. The second decision is found at 1 U.S. 2 (1759).

Lessee of Weston v Stammers, 1 U.S. 2 (1759) were two separate decisions of the Pennsylvania Provincial Court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. They are a among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports.

Stevenson v. Pemberton, 1 U.S. 3 (1760) is a decision of the Pennsylvania Provincial Court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. It is among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports.

Lessee of Ashton v. Ashton, 1 U.S. 4 (1760) is a decision of a Pennsylvania Provincial Court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. It is among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports.

Hewes v. M'Dowell, 1 U.S. 5 (1762) is a decision of a Pennsylvania Provincial Court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. It is among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports.

Lessee of Fothergill v. Fothergill, 1 U.S. 6 (1763) is a decision of the Pennsylvania Provincial Supreme Court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. It is among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports.

The King v. Lukens, 1 U.S. 5 (1762) is a decision of a Pennsylvania Provincial Court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. It is among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports.

Nixon and Harper v. Long and Plumstead, 1 U.S. 6 (1762) is a decision of a Pennsylvania Provincial Court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. It is among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports.

Wallace v. Child, 1 U.S. 7 (1763) is a decision of a Pennsylvania Provincial Court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. It is among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports.

Price v. Watkins, 1 U.S. 8 (1763) is a decision of a Pennsylvania Provincial Court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. It is among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports.

The King v. Haas, 1 U.S. 9 (1764) is a decision of a Pennsylvania provincial court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. It is among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports, and is among the earliest surviving reports of judicial proceedings in North America. It is also one of the first attempts to apply the writ of habeas corpus, then an established principle of English law, in the English colonies that later became the first thirteen states of the United States of America.

Lessee of Albertson v. Robeson, 1 U.S. 9 (1764) is a decision of a Pennsylvania Provincial Court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. It is among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports.

Lessee of Richardson v. Campbell, 1 U.S. 10 (1764) is a decision of a Pennsylvania provincial court, issued when Pennsylvania was still an English colony. It is among the first decisions that appear in the first volume of United States Reports, and is among the earliest surviving reports of judicial proceedings in North America. It is also one of the first applications of the Statute of Frauds, then an established principle of English law, in the English colonies that later became the first thirteen states of the United States of America.

References

  1. Cohen, Morris and O'Connor, Sharon H. A Guide to the Early Reports of the Supreme Court of the United States, (Fred B. Rothman & Co, Littleton Colorado, 1995)
  2. Act of Mar. 3, 1817, ch. 63, 3  Stat.   376.
  3. Hall, Kermit, ed. Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (Oxford 1992), p 215, 727