Access to the Justices' Papers: A Better Balance
110 Law Library Journal (2018 Forthcoming)
54 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2018 Last revised: 9 Feb 2018
Date Written: January 11, 2018
With the exception of official court records, the papers generated by the Supreme Court justices in their work for the Court are and have always been considered private property. As a result, the justices’ treatment of these documents is idiosyncratic, ranging from outright destruction to lengthy restrictions to quick release. Adding the perspective of archivists and librarians, this paper explores the history of the justices’ papers and questions of access, the public’s interest in understanding the Court and its decisions, and the effect of the justices’ papers on scholarship and popular research. Several options for encouraging greater openness are proposed.
Keywords: U.S. Supreme Court, archival collections, deeds of gift, public papers
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