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Pick a Supreme Court Case
UD Supreme Court Case Database
- Use the database to pick a case. To use the pull down menu version, click on the link above and then select LIST from the VIEW pulldown menu.
- All cases link out to SCOTUSblog for case descriptions, analysis, and court documentation.
- Appeal--the legal process of requesting your case is heard by a higher court in the legal system on the basis of some error made at the lower court
- "The court"--typically, the Supreme Court of the United States. The term is used to refer to the entire court as a whole.
- Per Curiam--“by the court.” A Per Curiam opinion is written for the court as a whole by an unidentified justice.
- Justices--the name used for the judges who are part of the Supreme Court. Also used as a title, as in Justice Scalia.
- Justice system--the entire legal system including law enforcement (police/detectives) and the court system (lawyers/judges).
- Amendment--typically one of the 27 additions to the U.S. Constitution made by the states since the Constitution was ratified. They are usually referenced by their number, i.e. First Amendment.
- Brief--a legal document written by a lawyer, produced for the justices in a court case.
- Holding--a statement summarizing what the court decided; the answer to the question presented; what is true about the final decision on the case.
- Remanded--“sent back.” The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court for further action. When it remands a case, the court generally includes instructions for the lower court, telling it to start an entirely new trial or directing it, for example, to look at the dispute in the context of laws or theories it might not have considered the first time around.
- Vacated--When the Supreme Court vacates a lower court ruling, it strips that ruling of effect, often in order to send the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.
Which Amendment is Which??
- 1st- freedom of religion, speech, press, assemble, and petition
- 2nd- own guns
- 4th- establishes search and seizure laws
- 5th- self-incrimination, double-jeopardy, due process
- 6th- right to fair trial and counsel
- 8th- prohibits excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment
- 10th- involves federal v. state rights
- 14th- equal protection under the law
Introduction to the Supreme Court
A little more about values...
So you've picked a case...now what?
On SCOTUSblog: (all case names in the database link to SCOTUSblog)
- Read the "In Plain English" articles--FIRST
- Read Argument or Opinion recaps/previews. Basically read whatever combination of those is available
- Your documents will all be in "chronological" order similar to the "I got arrested" story.
- Briefs look scary when you open them. It's ok. Find the Table of Contents first. The statements in that weird ALL CAPS are basically the argument topic statements. Start there.
- Make sure you know which side the amicus (amici curiae) brief is supporting.
Which colors mean what?
Many of the documents on SCOTUSblog are color-coded. Here's a key to help you find what you're looking for.
Amicus Brief for the Petitioner
Amicus Brief for the Respondent
Other Supreme Court Websites
Books that might help you
Finding other resources
This time try using the name of your court case as your search terms. You can also search for information about the general topics your case covers.
Assessment and Evaluation