Home > Uncategorized > The LII Supreme Court Bulletin: a resource for anyone interested in learning about the Supreme Court’s past, present, or future docket

The LII Supreme Court Bulletin: a resource for anyone interested in learning about the Supreme Court’s past, present, or future docket

When members of the legal community think about legal scholarship, what typically comes to mind is the concept of a print law journal (e.g., the Cornell Law Review, the Cornell Journal of Law & Public Policy, the Cornell International Law Journal, etc.). These works undoubtedly serve a very important function, but I wanted to write a bit about another relevant legal journal sited at Cornell Law School: the LII Supreme Court Bulletin (available here). Although Professor Haight introduced this electronic journal to our Online Legal Research class on Wednesday, it is a website that I am fairly familiar with, having served as an LII editor during the 2009-10 academic year (my now-outdated biography is viewable here). The LII Supreme Court Bulletin (“Liibulletin”) contains previews of cases on the Supreme Court’s docket. Because the previews are written with recourse to the relevant parties’ submitted briefs (the full versions of which are generally available here), and are published before the decisions are handed down, the previews generally reflect a balanced view of the legal issues unaffected by the bias of hindsight.

Liibulletin is a fantastic resource for people who are interested in keeping abreast with SCOTUS cases, but don’t have tons of free time to do so (e.g., law students who have more than enough assigned reading for courses). But one of the really neat things about LII bulletin is that it is particularly comprehensible and may be utilized by people without legal educations or backgrounds. In order to ensure that LII previews remain accessible to lay persons, all the previews contain hyperlinks to a free legal dictionary and encyclopedia. You will also note, by the way, that this dictionary, though frequently embedded within Liibulletin, is its own free-standing resource.

Each preview contains the following sections:

(1) A few key subject areas and descriptive terms. These list of terms are relevant since anyone can perform a subject matter search in Liibulletin across SCOTUS terms.

(2) An executive summary. This section, which is emailed to all Liibulletin subscribers, succinctly identifies the relevant facts, issues, and arguments of the case. It also generally addresses the legal (and, if relevant, nonlegal) significance(s) of the case

(3) Itemized questions presented. These are copied verbatim as provided on the Supreme Court’s case schedule.

(4) Itemized issues. As I mentioned earlier, Liibulletin is published with the underlying goal of making the law accessible to the public. In this way, this section can really be thought of as a simplification of the questions presented section.

(5) Factual narrative. Predictably, this section tells a balanced story of the case and discusses facts pertinent to the controversy before the Court.

(6) Discussion. This is the section that focuses on the greater picture. It calls into question the consequences of the case from largely a policy perspective. This section more or less explains the importance of the case to the lay observer.

(7) Analysis. The analysis section is a detailed and balanced analysis and explanation of the legal issues before the Court. It typically goes beyond summarizing the parties’ briefs, and actually synthesizes both lower courts’ opinions and briefs submitted by amici curiae.

(8) Conclusion. Like all conclusions of which I’m aware, the conclusions within the LII previews essentially restate the executive summaries by tying everything together. Once in a while, though, LII editors will include in this section their own opinions about how the Court should rule.

(9) Additional Sources. Each preview concludes with a list of additional legal sources that discuss the case.

I absolutely encourage anyone (or better yet, everyone) with an interest in learning about the Supreme Court’s docket to peruse the previews. If you’d like to have the previews sent directly to your email address, you can also subscribe to Liibulletin here.

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