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

The United States Reports are the official record of the rulings, orders, case tables, and other proceedings of the Supreme Court of the United States. Opinions of the court in each case, 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 Printing Office.

Contents

Citation

For lawyers, citations to U.S. Reports are the standard reference for Supreme Court decisions. Under the commonly accepted citation protocol, the case Brown, et al., v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas is cited thus:

Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

This citation indicates that the decision of the Court in the case entitled Brown v. Board of Education (as properly abbreviated per the aforementioned citation protocol), decided in 1954, can be found beginning at page 483 of volume 347 of the United States Reports.

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.

None of the decisions appearing in the first volume and most of the second volume of United States Reports is actually a decision 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; and, 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, creating the United States Reports. The earlier, private reports were retroactively numbered volumes 1–90 of the U.S. 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

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

External links

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Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

United States Reports
Supreme Court of the United States
The United States Reports are the official record of the rulings, orders, case tables, and other proceedings of the Supreme Court of the United States. Opinions of the court in each case, 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 is performed by private firms under contract with the United States Government Printing Office. — Excerpted from United States Reports on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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