Google Puts Supreme Court Opinions Online

A quick fyi: Starting today, you can find online legal opinions from the Supreme Court, as well as federal and state courts, thanks to Google Scholar. When you visit Google Scholar, click on the "Legal opinions and journals" radio button, and then begin your query. If you type "separate but equal," Scholar with present you with famous Supreme Court Cases such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education. You get the gist. You can read more about this online legal database over at Google's blog.

UPDATE/NOTE FROM READER: "This has already been done for the US Supreme Court, and very well, at oyez.org.  Oyez is easy to use, has lots of additional content, including summaries and audio of oral arguments, and is ad-free and Creative Commons licensed for its original content.  Plus, you can search by court term, Justice, and the name of the legal counsel." An alternative source to look at...


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  • This has already been done for the US Supreme Court, and very well, at oyez.org. Oyez is easy to use, has lots of additional content, including summaries and audio of oral arguments, and is ad-free and Creative Commons licensed for its original content. Plus, you can search by court term, Justice, and the name of the legal counsel.

    So I’m not sure what’s so great about Google searching public domain content and adding advertisements to it. Maybe this is useful because most people go to Google first, but it’s not new.

  • J. Quinn Public says:

    Wimberely, you’re correct: after all, Oyez has SCOTUS opinions plus seachable legal opinions and journals, and federal court opinions, and state court opinions.

    Oh wait, does it?

    Averting your eyeballs from ads is a small price to pay for avoiding the wexis/nestlaw extortion.

  • Reputation Lost says:

    While I applaud open government initiatives, there is a downside to providing court opinions through Google Search; the unexpected loss of personal privacy and potential serious damage to the reputation and employment prospects of an individual seeking redress in the courts.

    It appears that you do not need to us Google Scholar to find court opinions through Google. Google your name the same way as a potential employer typically does these days. If you’ve been named in a court opinion, chances it will be at or near the top of the results. 

    File an appeal to denial of unemployment or workers compensation benefits by an administrative body and you might as well forget about ever getting job with an organization that finds the court opinion regarding it. Any nasty statements from your past or present employer are there. Even if you win the appeal, the content an opinion may present you in a bad light. Worse yet, if someone else sharing your name is identified in a court opinion you can suffer harm from opinions on cases that have nothing at all to do with you personally. The majority of employers will pass on an otherwise exciting job candidate simply because they  filed a complaint in the past, even if the content of the opinion shows you in a positive or neutral light.

    Individual names must be redacted or anonymized in court opinions available outside of the official court records to protect the innocent for irreparable harm to their reputations and livelihoods. 

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