Supreme Court, Moving Slowly, Will Make Filings Available Electronically


The U.S. Supreme Court will make briefs and other filings available electronically, but not until at least next year, says Chief Justice John Roberts, the New York Times reports. Roberts said in his year-end report that judges had a special obligation to move more slowly than the rest of society. The court bans television coverage of its arguments, and it usually releases audio recordings of them days after they took place. The justices mostly communicate in writing, on paper rather than by email.

The court directs its website users to a site maintained by the American Bar Association for copies of briefs in the 70 or so cases it agrees to hear each year. It can be hard to find electronic copies of other materials, including the more than 7,000 petitions seeking review filed each year. Other federal courts have created a vast repository of “more than one billion retrievable documents” available to litigants, scholars, journalists and curious citizens. The fee is 10 cents a page, though there are exceptions and caps. Roberts did not explain why the Supreme Court chose to create its own system rather than join the existing one.

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