Case summary, arguments and opinions
The opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States are published officially in a set of case books called the United States Reports. See 28 U.S.C. §411. At the beginning of October Term 2013, the U.S. Reports consisted of 554 bound volumes and soft-cover "preliminary prints" of an additional 5 volumes; a final 10 volumes' worth of opinions also existed in individual "slip opinion" form. Volumes are added to the set at the rate of three to five per Term; they are generally between 800 and 1,200 pages long. In addition to all of the opinions issued during a particular period, a volume may contain a roster of Justices and Court officers during that period; an allotment of Justices by Federal Circuit; announcements of Justices' investitures and retirements; memorial proceedings for deceased Justices; a cumulative table of cases reported; orders in cases decided in summary fashion; reprints of amendments to the Supreme Court's Rules and the various sets of Federal Rules of Procedure; a topical index; and a statistical table summarizing case activity for the past three Court Terms. The U.S. Reports is compiled and published for the Court by the Reporter of Decisions. See 28 U.S.C. §673(c). Page proofs prepared by the Court's Publications Unit are reproduced, printed, and bound by private firms under contract with the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). The Court's Publications Officer acts as liaison between the Court and the GPO.
Reports and Policies
Besides the following resources, you may also search news on relevant agencies' websites.
Bills, joint resolutions, laws, legal history, legal reviews
Bill: The primary form of legislative measure used to propose law. Depending on the chamber of origin, bills begin with a designation of either H.R. or S.
Joint Resolutions: A form of legislative measure used to propose changes in law, or to propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Depending on the chamber of origin, they begin with a designation of either H.J.Res. or S.J.Res.
Congressional reports originate from congressional committees and deal with proposed legislation or issues under investigation. Congress issues different types of reports, including committee reports, conference reports and executive reports.
Congressional reports may be issued by the House or Senate. Depending on the chamber of origin, report citations begin with the Congress number during which it was issued and either H. Rpt. or S. Rpt., and an accession number (e.g., 112 H. Rpt. 1). Congressional reports are compiled in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set. HeinOnline has Vols. 1-555 (1754-2009).
Published hearing transcripts contain all witness testimony, the question-and-answer portion of the hearing, and any other material requested of the witness by the committee. It takes several months, or even years, for a hearing to be published. Unlike most other congressional documents, hearings are not available from the Senate or House Document Rooms. You may be able to locate a hearing from the Government Printing Office, from a committee website, or from a federal depository library like SIU Morris Library.
Many committees post witness testimony on their websites shortly after a hearing takes place. However, the transcripts are generally the prepared statements submitted by each witness, so they will not contain the question-and-answer portion. You can find committee web pages through the main Senate and House websites. Most committees organize their hearing transcripts by date, and sometimes by subcommittee. Generally, testimony is only available for witnesses who submitted their statements electronically.
Many of the officially published hearings since the 105th Congress (1997-1998) are available in full text on the Government Printing Office (GPO) website.
Published hearings are available in SIUC Morris Library. It is often also available in other Federal Depository Libraries like Morris Library, Over 1,100 libraries participate in the FDLP, collecting and/or providing public access to government documents. A list of depository libraries is on the GPO website. Since most depository libraries are within a university or state library, calling ahead to ask about hours or make appointment is advised.
The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress. For every day Congress is in session, an issue of the Congressional Record is printed by the Government Printing Office. Each issue summarizes the day's floor and committee actions and records all remarks delivered in the House and Senate.
Publication of the Congressional Record began in 1873, but it was not the first printed record of congressional debate, proceedings, and activities. In 1824 (18th Congress, 2nd session), Gales and Seaton, a private firm, began publishing the Register of Debates, which summarized debates considered important by the editors. This publication continued through 1837 (25th Congress, 1st session). In 1834, Gales and Seaton began to publish the Annals of Congress, which retrospectively covered the First Congress through the 18th Congress, 1st session (1789-1824). In 1833, Blair and Rives, another private firm, initiated publication of the Congressional Globe, which began as a weekly report summarizing congressional debate, proceedings, and activities, and later moved closer to a substantially verbatim account. Beginning in 1863, annual appropriations for the Congressional Globe were authorized and publication continued through the end of the 42d Congress in 1873, when Congress decided that going forward the Government Printing Office should be responsible for publishing the official record of Congress.
Associate Professor, Government Information Librarian