The Supreme Court now and the Supreme Court then

beSpacific posts an announcement from Thomas R. Bruce, co-director of Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, that it is now offering Supreme Court decisions delivered via an RSS feed.

Bruce writes: “As part of some extensive (and ongoing) renovation of our Supreme Court collection, we’ve added RSS feeds that offer summaries of recent decisions. There are two:

  • http://supct.law.cornell.edu:8080/supct/rss/0.91/supct_today.rss. Actually the less-useful of the two feeds, this one takes in decisions handed down ‘today’ (that is, in the midnight-to-midnight period we’re currently in). It’s empty much of the time, but is intended as the basis for a notification system.
  • http://supct.law.cornell.edu:8080/supct/rss/0.91/supct_recent.rss. This offers recent decisions of the court. ‘Recent’ is defined somewhat differently depending on whether the court is in session or not; this may sound a little complex, but it amounts to what most people would expect anyway. During the period from July 1 (when the court goes away for the summer) until the first decision is handed down in the new fall term (after October 1), the feed shows the decisions from the previous June. At all other times — that is, when the court is sitting — it shows any decisions from the 30 days just past. Given past patterns of behavior by the court, I am guessing that this may result in a few spots during the late fall and in early January when the feed is empty, but perhaps not. Both feeds are updated within minutes of decisions being handed down by the Court.”

If you prefer to look back at what the Supreme Court did in the past rather than at what it did today, the May 23 Scout Report looks at the Web site of The Supreme Court Historical Society. This fascinating site looks at the history of the Supreme Court through features such as Supreme Court Decisions and Women’s Rights, which explores how the court has reviewed laws that discriminate by sex, and FDR & the Court-Packing Controversy, a Flash documentary about FDR’s 1937 attempt to enlarge the court.