Saturday, October 10, 2009

Keeping Current with the USSC - Part Four

In Part Three we examined BNA United States Law Week and its well-regarded Supreme Court Today feature. This is a wonderful source but it comes with a price tag. What if you can’t or don’t want to pay?

The free alternative to US Law Week is the SCOTUS Blog and SCOTUS Wiki. This is the brainchild of Tom Goldstein, a partner at Akin Gump. Like Law Week, SCOTUS Blog offers national legal news. But, as serious blog, this news can be delivered by RSS feed on a daily basis. SCOTUS does not have the same size of reporting staff as BNA but they do a great job. Since the Akin Gump name is on the line you can see that they would be careful about the kinds of stories they would post.

There are several user friendly features in the tabs across the top of the main page: Orders and Opinions, New Filings, and Term Tracker. There are two additional features that will make your job of following the Court much easier. Petitions to Watch highlights interesting cases up for consideration at the Justice’s conferences throughout the term. You should also follow Commentary and Analysis that gives insight into issues and cases facing the Court. Look for the daily Today at the Court feature (this is the one for October 9th) that recaps the day’s activities and the Round-up feature (this is the one for the whole week) that does the same.

But for serious Court watchers the best feature is the link to the SCOTUS Wiki. On the Wiki you can find a complete review of the cases pending or recently heard by the Court. If we follow the link to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission you will see links to the Docket, the original Circuit Court opinion, the Merit Briefs, and the Amicus Briefs. In an appropriate case there is a link to the Petition for Certiorari. These are scanned copies of the original documents actually on file with the Court. Scroll down the page to find Pre-Argument Articles, Argument Preview, and, when the case has been heard, Oral Argument Recap, Opinion Analysis and links to other online sources such as the Oral Argument Transcript. These features are closely edited by the Wiki editorial staff.

In the history of the world there have been many titanic battles for dominance: King Kong v. Godzilla, Red Sox v. Yankees, Alien v. Predator. And now: US Law Week v. SCOTUS Blog. In the Throwdown, one person’s opinion about which one wins.