The judicial branches of the federal and state governments are unique, in that virtually every case they hear involving affirmative action and preferences generates a written, published opinion. These announce the result, contain summaries of the facts of the case, the litigation history, the rules either applied or fashioned, and the reasoning behind the decision. They are then collected and made available by various services and publishers, both online and in bound, printed volumes.
Most courts maintain a public website and their opinions are usually posted on that site as they are announced. For example, the Supreme Court of the United States has its own website, supremecourt.gov, on which it posts the opinions of the Court as they are announced. The official version of those opinions are then published by the Government Printing Office in United States Reports (U.S.).
The Court website has a section devoted to its Opinions. It currently contains every opinion of the Court going back to Volume 506 of the U.S. Reports, with decisions from the Court’s October 1992 Term. The site also has various subdivisions and a number of excellent explanatory sections, including:
Information About Opinions
and Where to Obtain Supreme Court Opinions
A number of the services that collect and publish Supreme Court opinions and those of the lower federal courts are proprietary and, in many instances, quite expensive. So, for example, the most commonly used source for the opinions of the various federal District Courts and Courts of Appeals are produced by Thompson Reuters in its West reporting system, both online (Westlaw) and in print (Federal Supplement for the District Courts and Federal Reporter for the Courts of Appeals). There is, however, an excellent public data base that is totally free on which one can find virtually every published opinion, both federal and state, Justia, found at:
All one needs is the name of the case and of the court that issued the opinion.