Tip of the Day: How to Search for a Slip Opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court Library

Tip of the Week, Tips and Tricks, U.S. Supreme Court
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Here’s today’s Tip of the Day in honor of Customer Appreciation Week:

If you are searching for a slip opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court Library, you can search by the name or by the slip opinion number.  To search by the number, you would use the Description field from the drop down menu in the field search option or use the field description in an advanced search.  To search by name, you would use the Title field.  Let’s look at a specific example illustrating how to locate a slip opinion by case name or number and search within that opinion for key terms.

For our examples, we are going to focus on the District of Columbia et al. v. Heller case that argues and discusses the interpretation of the second amendment and the right to possess a firearm.  We know it was published as a slip opinion in June 2008 and the number is 07-290.

Using the field search option, we can select Description from the drop down menu and insert the slip opinion number 07-290.

This will give us 1 result with a direct link to the slip opinion.

We could also search for the case by the case name. To do this, we would select Case Title from the drop down, insert Heller into the search box, highlight U.S. Reports Slip Opinions from the title listing, and click search.  This will also return 1 result with a direct link to the opinion.

The text of the opinion is over 40 pages and we specifically want to hone in on the part that discusses the Presser case from 1886 and the courts decision reaffirming that the Second Amendment acts as a limitation upon only the federal government and not the states. To find references to this case quickly within the opinion we can search within our result by clicking on “Search Within These Results”.

Now we are going to enter the following search syntax into the search box and click search:  text:Presser

The search result will appear just as the result did above, however now it will display a link that says “View Matching Text Pages”. Click on this link to expand the list of matching text results to our phrase “Presser”. In this case, we have five links to pages within the slip opinion that discuss the 1886 Presser case.


This shortcut allows you to quickly search for the Slip Opinion, using the case name or number, and then search within the slip opinion for key words or terms.

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