Sunday, June 28, 2009

Supreme Court Super Nerd in 3 Easy Steps

The Internet has made it possible for anyone with a computer (and, of course, an Internet connection) to become a world class Supreme Court Super Nerd. And who doesn't want to be one of those?

Step 1: Read the Opinions
This is pretty obvious: Read the Supreme Court opinions. The Court is surprisingly tech-savvy. Within minutes of releasing an opinion it will be available online in .pdf format. So visit the Supreme Court opinions page and read the latest developments in the law from the highest court in the land.

Step 2: Track them Day-by-Day
You don't need to check the Court's web site everyday. Subscribe to the Willamette Supreme Court updates to get email notifications of recent developments. Willamette provides same-day updates:
  • When the Court grants certiorari. For those of you who are not yet Super Nerds, that's when the Court announces they will hear a case (they don't hear 'em all, in fact they hear very few).
  • When the Court hears oral arguments - Lawyers show up and argue their side while the Court peppers them with questions (well, everyone except Justice Thomas - he rarely asks any questions at arguments).
  • When the Court issues an opinion - Which you will now go read on the Supreme Court web site!
  • Summaries - Willamette provides concise (but substantive) summaries of the cases
Step 3: Track them Minute-by-Minute
If you are an absolute die-hard, not just a Supreme Court nerd but a Super Nerd, you can track the Court's every move minute-by-minute. Well, not every minute of every day, but the important stuff.

Akin Gump (with help) publishes SCOTUSblog. These people are downright scary... they take Supreme Court Super Nerd to the next level! Along with several other valuable services (case summaries, pending cases, recent cert grants, etc.), they provide the you-must-see-it-to-believe-it SCOTUS live blog.

To see an example, check out 6/25's SCOTUS live blog. Maybe that's a little overkill, but it's perfect when you're awaiting big news... like say, a hugely anticipated employment law decision regarding alleged discrimination against white firefighters in New Haven is expected to be released... like tomorrow.

Conclusion
Hey, what do ya know? The Court's expected to issue the Ricci opinion tomorrow! Perfect opportunity to follow the three easy steps: 1. Find out the exact minute it's released on SCOTUSblog; 2. Read the opinion on the Supreme Court web site; 3. Get the summary from Willamette... which will then supply the email updates for the future decisions. And then it's just a matter of repeating the steps.

Follow these steps and you're on your way to becoming a Supreme Court Super Nerd!