Friday, June 29, 2018

Researching the SCOTUS Shortlist

When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his intent to retire from the Court earlier this week, speculation immediately began as to the identity of the next Court nominee. Back in November 2017, the White House released a list of 25 potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees from the federal and state benches, and the President confirmed this week that the next nominee would be a member of that shortlist. Online oddsmakers have been busily tracking the most likely nominees, with Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit and Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit as the current front-runners.

The Washington Post has written brief summaries of the likeliest nominees, but there are additional resources available to conduct research on these or any other judges. Many are listed in the library's guide to Directories of Courts & Judges. Highlights include:
  • Almanac of the Federal Judiciary (online in Westlaw & Wolters Kluwer): A unique biographical directory for federal judges that includes information about noteworthy rulings, media coverage, publications, and "lawyers' evaluation" comments on the judge's behavior and demeanor.
  • Ravel Law, Judge Analytics. Provides biographical profiles of federal and state judges, linked to analysis of opinions and orders. Analytics include most-cited opinions, judges, and courts. Duke Law students and professors are eligible for free Ravel access through the "Request Educational Account" link. (Lexis Advance, which purchased Ravel Law last year, is in the process of incorporating Ravel visualizations into its search results, but the Judge Analytics have not yet been incorporated into Lexis's own Litigation Profiles for judges.)

The guide also links to various tools for tracking judicial vacancies and nominations. For help navigating resources about judges and nominations, be sure to Ask a Librarian.