Soundscape History and Environmental Law in the Supreme Court

61 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2016 Last revised: 5 Dec 2018

Date Written: 2015


Today’s technology unleashes new, digitized information resources with immense scale and speed. This Article examines one such resource — the archive of audio recorded proceedings of the United States Supreme Court — appraising, for the first time, its value to those who study and practice environmental law. From hundreds of hours of audio across six decades, a history of environmental litigation sounds forth, imparting rich lessons on advocacy, judicial reasoning, and the role of the Court in environmental law’s development. The Article organizes itself in three major parts, furnishing insights on: oral advocacy in the environmental docket; the voices from the bench; and the audience for prospective engagement with any selection or subset of recordings. Serving partly as a listener’s guide, the Article defines the reach of environmental litigation in the audio archive and demonstrates its unique value as a tool for learning and the professional betterment of environmental law scholars and practitioners.

Keywords: Supreme Court, Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, Environmental History, Sound Recordings, Forensic Oratory Analysis

JEL Classification: K32, N50

Suggested Citation

Tomasovic, Brian, Soundscape History and Environmental Law in the Supreme Court (2015). Environmental Law, Vol. 45, No. 4, 2015, Available at SSRN:

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