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U.S. Government Publications

Guide to U.S. Government publications.


Fully-searchable archives of court data including growing repositories of opinions, oral arguments, judges, judicial financial records, and federal filings.

The federal court structure consists of:

  • the Supreme Court,
  • the Court of Appeals (there are 13 of these),
  • District Courts (there are 94 of these, they are organized into 12 regional circuits),
  • Bankruptcy Courts, 
  • Article I Courts (Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, U.S. Tax Court).

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S.

Supreme Court opinions go through several cycles:  See the box below for information on the life cycle of an opinion.

Life Cycle of an Opinion

The Supreme Court's opinions go through several generations--or stages--of publication.

"On days that opinions are announced by the Court from the bench, the text of each opinion is made available immediately to the public and the press in a printed form called a "bench opinion." opinions/info_opinions.aspx

"Several days after an opinion is announced by the Court, it is printed in a 6" x 9" self-cover pamphlet called a "slip opinion." Each slip opinion consists of the majority or plurality opinion, any concurring or dissenting opinions, and the syllabus. It may [also] contain corrections..." info_opinions.aspx

"...Brown, soft-cover "advance pamphlets" that contain, in addition to the opinions themselves, all of the announcements, ½ tables, indexes, and other features that make up the U.S. Reports.  The contents of two or three preliminary prints will eventually be combined into a single bound volume." opinions/info_opinions.aspx

"The fourth and final generation of opinion publication is the casebound set of law books entitled United States Reports." opinions/info_opinions.aspx