Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An Attempt at Reading United States Reports, Volume 515

Owing to my interest in the Supreme Court, recently revitalized by having read Five Chiefs by John Paul Stevens, which in turn spurred me on to order biographies of Antonin Scalia and Sandra Day O'Connor that I had checked out of the library earlier this year but had not read, and having read The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin and The Brethren by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong, I pulled out of a stack near my left-side closet door United States Reports, Volume 515, a result of rooting through the Government Printing Office Bookstore website (http://bookstore.gpo.gov/), seeing if there were any cheap volumes of Supreme Court decisions. The full official title of 515 is United States Reports, V. 515, Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court at October Term, 1994, May 30 through September 29, 1995, Together with Opinions of Individual Justices in Chambers, End of Term. 1,369 pages. $19.

The volume nearest to this one that I can find on the website is volume 513, and that goes for $50.40. I bought this one because I was curious about what such a book looks like and it's incredibly thick in hardcover, with a gloomy tan cover, and very official type on the spine with United States Reports in gold lettering, against a red background, with gold bars above and below it, and the same gold bars above and below Oct. Term 1994 and below that, Amendments of Rules, both lines against a black background. When Mom saw it after I took it out of the box it came in, she said it was exactly what her grandfather had in his law office, hundreds of books like this one lined up on shelves. She remembered it well.

Curiosity spurred me on to order this. I didn't want to read for hours the .pdfs available on the Supreme Court website, though I may scroll through them, and wanted one volume that I could read through, seeing what's written here, as well as the writing styles of the justices, particular David Souter in this time, who is my favorite justice, albeit retired now.

There will be occasional entries as I pore over it, things observed, use of footnotes, how much they're used, how each justice seems to approach the case at hand in their words, and the careful use of words to make the law clear.

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