Friday, 6 November 2009

Supreme Court Database

The Supreme Court Database created by Prof. Harold Spaeth (Michigan State College of Law) has been around for a long time, but it was just this week updated with new technology to make it much more user-friendly. The database has 247 pieces of information for each case, roughly broken down into six categories: (1) identification variables (e.g., citations and docket numbers); (2) background variables (e.g., how the Court took jurisdiction, origin and source of the case, the reason the Court agreed to decide it); (3) chronological variables (e.g., the date of decision, term of Court, natural court); (4) substantive variables (e.g., legal provisions, issues, direction of decision); (5) outcome variables (e.g., disposition of the case, winning party, formal alteration of precedent, declaration of unconstitutionality); and (6) voting and opinion variables (e.g., how the individual justices voted, their opinions and interagreements). The interface has been modernized to make it easy to access all variables (with descriptive names) and quickly select a case or set of cases.

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