04 October 2004

Making the World (Un)Safe for Democracy

Well, in about fifteen minutes (as I write this), the nation will be unsafe for mob rule. At 1000 EDT, the Supreme Court begins its October 2004 Term. There have been some significant changes on the Court's website for this term.
  • New, full-court opinions will continue to be posted in slip form, but at an address for this term only. Prior-term slip opinions will appear as part of the .
  • One new (and long overdue) feature is the separate directories for opinions in chambers (most often, denials of stays, I would imagine) and for order opinions (this is where I expect to see all of those orders denying future routine filings to obsessive-compulsive prisoner filers).
  • Orders will continue to be found through their own HTML page, as will the case list. The new structure of the case list, though, makes it much more manageable to get the questions presented, posture, parties, and opinion-below information by links to PDF summaries of cases. Unfortunately, this does not yet provide information on matters that have not yet been granted review. It seems to me that the Supreme Court should change its rules to require a cover sheet with this information be filed as part of the certiorari package, which can then simply be scanned (or even provided as a PDF on disk!).
  • Last, and far from least, the court continues to make its bound (official) opinions available in PDF form on its website, currently (that is, as of exactly this time) running from volumes 502 (October 1991) through 537 (October 2003). Although these are at least theoretically not the "official" versions—those are the paper bound volumes—these files are the source for printing up the bound volumes, so they're about as close as one is likely to get. And free, even if each volume is a 4-5mb PDF download.
A little time has passed. As of posting time, mob rule is no longer safe.

In any event, Professor Rick Hasen's Election Law Blawg has links to a couple of interesting editorials concerning the mechanisms, and ultimately the safety, of democracy.