Earlier this week somebody on the Internet pinged us with some code and asked that we integrate the data from the Supreme Court Database (SCDB). Well, we’re happy to share that less than a week later we’ve taken the code they provided and used it to upgrade CourtListener’s database.

The Supreme Court Database includes data for about 8,500 Supreme Court opinions from 1946 to 2013 and this first pass merges that data with CourtListener so that:

  • Our copy of these opinions are enhanced with better parallel citations. You can now look these items up by U.S. Reporter (U.S.), The Supreme Court Reporter (S.Ct.), Lawyers’ Edition (L.Ed.) or even LEXIS citation (U.S. LEXIS). This should make our citation graph much more robust and should help people like Colin Starger at University of Baltimore that are doing great analyses with this data. Many of these items were screen scraped directly from the Supreme Court website meaning that for these items, this is the first time they have had proper citations. Here’s an example of the many parallel citations items now have:

Roe v. Wade

  • All Supreme Court Opinions from 1946 to 2013 have a new field that can be used by researchers to join them with the SCDB. This will allow the opinions from CourtListener to be merged with the items in SCDB to get any fields that we did not yet import (SCDB has dozens of fields!)

So, this first pass at a merge of SCDB and CourtListener accomplishes the immediate goals of adding more citations and of making it possible to join the two databases, but we have not yet imported all of the many fields that are included in the SCDB. We’re waiting to hear from the community before moving forward with any of the other fields so that we can learn which are valuable to our users. Depending on which fields people ask for, it should be easy for us to add them as needed. Be in touch and we’ll be happy to import further data.

Like many of our recent features, this enhancement was possible because somebody wanted our data enhanced, gave us a great prototype implementation, and asked for us to do the last little bit to deploy it on CourtListener. We’re happy to do so today and to release the best CourtListener data yet.