United States Reports

United States Reports

The "United States Reports" are the official record of the rulings, orders, case tables, and other proceeding of the Supreme Court of the United States. Opinions of the court in each case, prepended with a headnote prepared by the Reporter of Decisions, and any concurring or dissenting opinions are published sequentially. The Court's Publication Office oversees the binding and publication of the volumes of United States Reports, although the actual printing, binding, and publication is performed by private firms under contract with the United States Government Printing Office.


None of the decisions appearing in the first volume and most of the second volume of United States Reports are actually decisions of the United States Supreme Court. Instead, they are decisions from various Pennsylvania courts, dating from the colonial period and the first decade after Independence. Alexander Dallas, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania lawyer and journalist, had been in the business of reporting these cases for newspapers and periodicals. He subsequently began compiling his case reports in a bound volume, which he called “Reports of cases ruled and adjudged in the courts of Pennsylvania, before and since the Revolution”. [Cohen, Morris and O’Connor, Sharon H. "A Guide to the Early Reports of the Supreme Court of the United States", (Fred B. Rothman & Co, Littleton Colorado, 1995] This would come to be known as the first volume of "Dallas Reports."

When the United States Supreme Court, along with the rest of the new Federal Government, moved in 1791 to the nation’s temporary capital in Philadelphia, Dallas was appointed the Supreme Court’s first unofficial and unpaid Supreme Court Reporter. (Court reporters in that age received no salary, but were expected to profit from the publication and sale of their compiled decisions.) Dallas continued to collect and publish Pennsylvania decisions in a second volume of his Reports, and when the Supreme Court began hearing cases, he added those cases to his reports, starting towards the end of the second volume, “2 Dallas Reports”. Dallas would go on to publish a total of 4 volumes of decisions during his tenure as Reporter.

In 1874, the U.S. government created the United States Reports, and numbered the volumes previously published privately as part of that series, starting from the first volume of Dallas Reports. The four volumes Dallas published were retitled volumes 1 - 4 of United States Reports. [Hall, Kermit, ed. "Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States" (Oxford 1992), p 215, 727] As a result, decisions appearing in these early reports have dual citation forms; one for the volume number of the United States Reports, and one for the set of reports named for the reporter (called nominative reports.) For example, the complete citation to "Lessee of Hyam v. Edwards" is 1 U.S. 1 (1 Dallas 1) (1760).


For lawyers, citations to "U.S. Reports" are the standard reference for Supreme Court decisions. Under the commonly accepted citation protocol, the case "Brown, et al, v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas" is cited thus::"Brown v. Board of Education", 347 U.S. 483 (1954).This citation indicates that the decision of the Court in the case entitled "Brown v. Board of Education" (as properly abbreviated per the aforementioned citation protocol), decided in 1954, can be found beginning at page 483 of volume 347 of the "United States Reports".

See also

*Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States
*Complete list of United States Supreme Court cases


External links

* [http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/info_opinions.html United States Supreme Court: Information About Opinions]
* [http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/opinions.html United States Supreme Court: Opinions]
* [http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/boundvolumes.html United States Supreme Court: Bound Volumes - Lists of PDFs]

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