Shout-Out to SCOTUSblog

Today’s conclusion of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) 2012-2013 session calendar— after a burst of some high-profile opinions—is an opportune occasion for a reminder of the fantastic resource that is SCOTUSblog. The site’s been around since the relatively early days of blogs—2002—and it has been discussed or referenced on this blog a few times. Indeed, a Google search for “SCOTUS” returns SCOTUSblog before it does the home for SCOTUS itself:


SCOTUSblog can be seen as a superb example of an excellent public resource supported by commercial partners, including a legal publisher. It started small and rather independently and is not an offshoot of SCOTUS itself. Its contents are Creative Commons licensed (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US)). Its numerous current features benefit from a partnership with Bloomberg Law and private practitioners and law students:

SCOTUSblog is devoted to comprehensively covering the U.S. Supreme Court without bias and according to the highest journalistic and legal ethical standards. The blog is provided as a public service and is sponsored by Bloomberg Law.

Tom Goldstein and Amy Howe, husband and wife, founded the blog in 2002. Reporter Lyle Denniston joined a few years later. Other permanent and part-time staff members have joined over time. Significant contributions have come from other lawyers at Tom and Amy’s law firm, as well as their students at Stanford and Harvard Law Schools. Now more than twenty people work on or write for the blog.

The site has changed remarkably over the years. A search of the Internet Archive shows an interesting partial history, and a wholesale revamp in 201o led to the current SCOTUSblog 4.0. The publisher’s note about the vision for the current iteration of the site is interesting reading and tracks the evolution of the technological and legal information environment since the site’s inception. He describes the current SCOTUSblog as in the nature of a well-indexed book (a multimedia one, I’ll add):

To really understand the new SCOTUSblog conceptually, and to make the most of it, it is easiest to contrast a news ticker (which corresponds to the traditional model of a blog) with a well-indexed book filled with hundreds of constantly updated individual pages (which corresponds to SCOTUSblog 4.0). On the new blog, every case has its own page; all of these pages collectively make up the blog. All of our separate posts about that case, as well as all the material we collect (such as briefs and commentary by others), are added to the page. As we update this virtual “book” with new posts — such as an oral argument preview or opinion analysis — each update appears as a blog post; but fundamentally the organizing principle is each case’s page.

The interesting components, beyond the blog itself, are worth exploring: videos, special features, and statistics, for example. The site’s Twitter feed is followed by many and surely is the early source of updates on new decisions of the Supreme Court of the U.S. for many lawyers, journalists, and others. Undoubtedly because of the high-profile opinions released this week including today’s DOMA and Prop 8 opinions, the feed has seen over 4000 posts or mentions and counting.


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