United States Reports

United States Reports

Record of cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. United States Reports is published by the Government Printing Office. Court opinions are first published as “slip opinions,” reports of individual decisions put out within a few days of the decision. Groups of slip opinions are then published in paperback form as “preliminary prints.”

Hardbound volumes of United States Reports are released following the completion of each Court term. United States Reports includes summaries of the fact situations and what happened to the case in the lower courts. Also included is the full opinion of the Court for each case decided and all concurring and dissenting opinions that might have been issued. The first ninety volumes of the United States Reports were issued under the names of the Supreme Court reporters. These include Dallas, Cranch, Wheaton, Peters, Howard, Black, and Wallace. Cases may be located in these volumes by a citation that references volume and page. The citation for an early case like Marbury v. Madison is 1 Cranch 137 (1803). This means the case was decided in 1803 and can be found on page 137 of the first of the volumes under Cranch’s name. Since 1874, the volumes have been numbered consecutively, beginning with volume 91, as United States Reports. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), is an example of a more recent citation.

Supreme Court of the United States

Official court reporting began in 1790 with the inception of the United States Reports , cited U.S., which remains the official edition of U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Citations to volumes of the U.S. Reports before volume 91 (1875) must include a reference to the particular official reporter of the Court. There were seven such reporters, as follows:

Reporter / Volumes / Years / U.S. Reports:

  • Dallas / 1 – 4 / 1790 – 1800 / 1 – 4
  • Cranch / 1 -9 / 1801 – 1815 / 5- 13
  • Wheaton / 1 – 12 / 1816 – 1827 / 14 – 25
  • Peters / 1 – 16 / 1828 – 1842 / 26 – 41
  • Howard / 1 – 24 / 1843 – 1860 / 42 – 65
  • Black / 1 – 2 / 1861 – 1862 / 66 – 67
  • Wallace / I – 23 / 1863 – 1874 / 68 – 90

Hence, for example, Marbury v. Madison , 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803).

After volume 90, citation is by volume and page number of the U.S. Reports only. For example: Southern Pacific Co. v. Jenson , 244 U.S. 205 (1917).

Analysis and Relevance

United States Reports is the official record of Supreme Court decisions. It is published by the federal government. In addition to containing the full text of all opinions, the editors summarize all information pertaining to the case, prepare a syllabus of each decision, and write headnotes that outline the legal issues. Since cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court focus on many major social and political issues, the information contained in United States Reports is valuable to an understanding of legal thought and appellate processes. This series makes such information readily available not only to the legal and academic communities, but to the general public as well. United States Reports also lists those cases that are denied review by the Supreme Court.


Notes and References

  1. Definition of United States Reports from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

See Also

Supreme Court Reporter (Judicial Effects and Policies) United States Supreme Court reports (Judicial Effects and Policies).

United States Reports: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about United States Reports. This part provides references, in relation to United States Reports, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about United States Reports by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about United States Reports and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about United States Reports or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to United States Reports and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting United States Reports. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about United States Reports should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to United States Reports when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

Leave a Comment