Resources for Readers: The Oyez Project

BlawgConomics has often noted its keen interest in free resources for students, professionals and average citizens in a world of expensive websites and subscription services. As we think it can only benefit our readers to know about and have access to such resources, we try to use the platform afforded by the site to help spread the word whenever we come across anything of note. In this post, we would like to highlight Chicago-Kent's aptly named Oyez Project, a multi-year systematic program dedicated to providing an accessible resource for everything SCOTUS. From the Project's 'About' tab:

The Oyez Project at Chicago-Kent is a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States and its work. It aims to be a complete and authoritative source for all audio recorded in the Court since the installation of a recording system in October 1955. The Project also provides authoritative information on all justices and offers a virtual reality Tour of portions of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of some of the justices.

The Oyez Project now offers access to more than 7,000 hours of Supreme Court audio. The aim of this latest effort is to create a public, searchable archive of all public sessions recorded in the Court since 1955. With this version of Oyez, our audio collection covers all audio from the 1968 Term through the current 2010 Term. Before 1968, the audio collection is selective.

We report voting details in every case back to 1953, thanks to data compiled by Harold Spaeth, the creator of several NSF-funded databases currently hosted Center for Empirical Research in the Law (CERL) at Washington University School of Law. We display votes using headshots of the justices. Active images signal voting with the majority, opaque images signal voting with the minority, and missing images signal no participation. The author of a majority opinion will be framed in purple, and the author of a judgment of the Court will be framed in green. More details about a justice's vote can be displayed by moving the mouse over his or her picture. For example, this is how the votes appear in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld:

You can sort the votes by voting coalitions, by seniority, or by ideology. Seniority arrays the justices left to right, with the Chief Justice in the left-hand position followed in order of service by the other justices. Ideology arrays the justices left to right from most liberal to most conservative.

This is a truly powerful tool as well as a valuable resource for anyone interested in how the US justice system functions. For anyone interested in specific resources, audio is available here and information on particular courts can be found here. Meanwhile the Project's main page can be accessed here. We have also included a link to the Oyez Project in our Other Resources section where readers can find the best in global news as well free legal and economic tools.

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