Quick Facts

  • 202,971 documents
  • 76,830 cases
  • 10,807,719 pages

GEOGRAPHY COVERED:

TIME PERIOD: 1832–1978

 

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Related Subject Areas
American History
Constitutional Law
Government
Intellectual Law
Law
Political Science

Related Areas of Interest
American Civil War/Reconstruction
Civil Rights
Immigration
International Politics
Legal History
Politics
Slavery/Abolition
U.S. Constitution
U.S. South
Victorian/Romantic Era
Westward Expansion
World War I
World War II

The Making of Modern Law: U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978 contains the world's most comprehensive online collection of records and briefs brought before the nation's highest court by leading legal practitioners — many who later became judges and associates of the court. It includes transcripts, applications for review, motions, petitions, supplements and other official papers of the most-studied and talked-about cases, including many that resulted in landmark decisions centering on:

  • The interpretation of the Constitution and its amendments
  • Judicial review and the role of the courts in American history
  • States' rights and national sovereignty
  • Free enterprise, banking and commerce
  • Discrimination and modern civil liberties
  • Intellectual property and technology
  • Evolving nature of race, gender, faith and identity
  • And much more

The Making of Modern Law: U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978 serves the needs of students and researchers in American legal history, politics, society and government, as well as practicing attorneys.

Summary:  A brief is a written legal argument based upon evidence, authorities and precedents presented to the court for its consideration in support of applications, legal hearings and trials, motions or appeals.  The brief presents both the fact of the case and the questions of law before the court, as well as the determination desired by the author or authors.

The Making of Modern Law: U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978 contains official court filings from the final years of the court’s fourth chief justice, John Marshall, through the first 10 years of the court’s 15th chief justice, Warren Earl Burger.  Some cases consist of a few documents, while others may include dozens of documents.  The collection does not include the Court’s rulings, opinions or decisions, but focuses on the legal documents and records presented to the court, including:

  • Appellant’s Brief
  • Application for Review
  • Application for Writ
  • Brief of Real Party
  • Intervener’s Brief
  • Jurisdictional Statement
  • Opposition for Review
  • Petitions
  • Relator’s Brief
  • Transcripts

The Making of Modern Law: U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978 includes famous briefs written by leading attorneys (many who later became judges and associates of the Court) such as Louis D. Brandeis, Abe Fortas, Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It also contains briefs written by  institutions, corporations, and advocacy groups, including  NAACP, the ACLU and The New York Times,  It covers cases whose landmark decisions have become an essential part of American law, politics and history, including:

  • “Dred Scott v. Sandford” (1857) held that a black slave could not become a citizen under the U.S. Constitution
  • “Butchers’ Benevolent Association v. Crescent City Livestock Landing and Slaughterhouse Co.” (1873) docketed as the “Slaughterhouse Cases,” interpreted for the first time the major clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment (1868), which was designed to restrain state governments from abridging the rights of former slaves after the Civil War
  • “Plessy v. Ferguson” (1896), delivered the famous “separate but equal” decision allowing for racial segregation in public transportation
  • “Muller v. Oregon” (1908) features the brief of Louis D. Brandeis, who later served as justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and which for the first time used modern social science data in a case on labor law
  • “Schenck v. United States” (1919) enunciated the “clear and present danger” rule as a means of testing the validity of government interference with freedom of speech
  •  “National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.” (1937) upheld economic regulatory legislation by declaring the constitutionality of a key piece of New Deal legislation during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
  • “Brown v. Board of Education” (1954) outlawed segregation in public education. It contains historic briefs by members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • “Miranda v. Arizona” (1966) required police to inform suspects of their rights before interrogating them. “Miranda” is now a fixture of popular television police dramas, such as “Law and Order”
  • “New York Times Co. v. United States” (1971) the famous case of the “Pentagon Papers” during the Vietnam War era
  • “Roe v. Wade” (1973) held with some qualification that state laws prohibiting abortions were unconstitutional
  • “United States v. Richard M. Nixon” (1974) ordered President Nixon to obey a subpoena directing him to surrender tape recordings of conversations made in the White House during the Watergate scandal

By presenting the background and context of the cases presented to the high court, The Making of Modern Law: U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978 contains essential primary source material on every aspect of law — civil rights law, constitutional law, corporate law, environmental law, gender law, labor law, legal history and legal theory, property law, taxation, trademark and intellectual property law — as well as the major topics in American history, including: 

  • The interpretation of the constitution and its amendments
  • Judicial review and the role of the courts in American history
  • States’ rights and national sovereignty
  • The institution of slavery
  • Settling of the western territories
  • Government’s role in war and peace
  • Free enterprise
  • Banking and commerce
  • Big business and organized labor
  • Discrimination and modern civil liberties
  • Intellectual property and technology
  • Environmental history and the public’s health
  • Evolving nature of race, gender, faith and identity

Significance:  A lawyer’s brief often incorporates considerable historical, economic and sociological data, which makes it a particularly rich archival source for lawyers, historians and social scientists. From the generation before the American Civil War to the decade of the Vietnam War and Watergate, The Making of Modern Law: Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832–1978 offers an in-depth record of contemporary analytical writing by well-known social scientists, economists, sociologists, psychologists, social thinkers, scientists, historians and academics.

In addition, The Making of Modern Law: Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832–1978:

  • Brings together a primary source component that scholars traditionally depend upon in order to answer key questions in legal and constitutional history
  • Revolutionizes the study of the Supreme Court — the apex of the American judicial system and a critical focus for students of American politics, government and history — by offering a fully searchable online resource to all major issues brought before the Supreme Court
  • Presents 140 years of court history, allowing researchers to trace the evolution of modern law in the United States
  • Supports research in other applications, including American economic history, American social history, rhetoric and the interpretation of language, African American history and critical race theory, feminist studies and jurisprudence, philosophy and ethics, social studies and more

With full-text search capabilities on the facsimile pages, researchers can conduct precise searches and comparative research in every area of law.

Source:  The Making of Modern Law: U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978 is derived from two essential reference sources: 

  • For the period 1832 (when printed Court records began) through 1915, the documents are based primarily on the holdings of the Jenkins Memorial Law Library, America’s first law library, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • For 1915-1978, the source is the Library of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, a nationally recognized research facility and the single largest member supported law library in the United States

Structure:  In addition to the data-capture of the full text of all works within this collection, additional details associated with each work have been captured to facilitate searching and ensure accessibility of the works within The Making of Modern Law: U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978. Several search indexes have been developed utilizing this metadata, providing users with unequaled access to the content and providing full details within the Full Citation created for each work. Metadata includes:

  • Case name
  • Variant case name
  • Document type
  • Document file date
  • Supreme Court term year
  • Docket number
  • Alternate docket number
  • U.S. Reports citation
  • Supreme Court Reporter citation
  • Lawyer’s Edition citation
  • Opinion date
  • Author (counsel) names, including personal and organizational names
  • Case heard

For more information, download a Product Fact Sheet [pdf, 292 KB]

The Making of Modern Law: U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978 is the world's most comprehensive online collection of official papers brought before the nation’s highest court.

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