The collection at Cornell Law Library

The collection is available in print and online. To see items from the print collection, email Law Library Reference.

The print collection begins 1928 (Gonzalez v. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, 280 U.S. 1 (1929)). The collection is supplemented with the multi-volume Landmark Briefs and Arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Law Library holds the first 80 volumes, years 1793 to 1974. This is a selective set containing documents from well-known cases. The earliest cases, in the first two volumes, contain only oral argument summaries. The earliest briefs available date from 1856.

How the print collection is organized

  • The print collection is organized by U.S. Reports citation from 1928 through 1976. Print documents in this part of the collection are bound by U.S. Reports citation.
  • In the mid-1970s, it became standard practice to organize the documents by Supreme Court docket number. The print collection which is organized by docket number includes documents docketed in the 1972, 1973, and 1974 terms. However, a continuous chronology of documents begins with items docketed in the 1975 term.
  • The part of the print collection organized by docket number is unbound.  Each brief or petition is separately bound.

How Supreme Court Briefs arrive at the Law Library

  1. The clerk of the Court places petitions for certiorari on the docket shortly after they are received and reviewed for acceptability. The docket number is in term year-number format. Remember that cases granted review are not necessarily heard in the same year in which they were docketed.
  2. Print dockets from the Court's prior term are received at Cornell Law Library in the late fall.
  3. The most recent print documents on the shelf have filing dates 1 - 2 years back. It may take up to three years to complete the document collection for a particular case.