First Monday in October

On the first Monday of October every year the Supreme  Court of the United States starts a new term.

Today is an appropriate moment to consider the history of the Court.  Like all academic law libraries our Cornell Library has a substantial number of books on this topic.  A Julien search for United States Supreme Court – history brings up 149 titles.  These of course are just those  titles covering the entire history or parts of the history of the Supreme Court.

Perhaps the most comprehensive multivolume history of the Court, covering from the beginning up to the Warren Court is called the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise History of the Supreme Court of the United States.  This  curious and lengthy title proceeds from the fact that Oliver Wendell Holmes left his $250,000 estate to the United States and part of the proceeds were put aside to publish this set.

Begun in 1971  the authors assigned to the individual volumes include an array of famous law professors, some of the first generation authors died before finishing their volumes. One of the volumes is dived into two, while other volumes are combined into one, and volumes 10, 11, and 13 remain to be published.  Columbia University Professor Eban Moglen, in his review of one of the volumes, wrote a brief history of the Devise edition.  

For those who prefer their Supreme Court history in one volume, consider Peter Irons’s A People’s History of the Supreme Court.

For books on individual justices searched under the justices named as a subject.  For example,  books on Earl Warren.

Well, enough with the long version of history.  How about the other extreme?  New York Magazine in its October 6, 2013 issue published a interview with Justice Antonin Scalia.   The Washington Post on 4 October 2013 published a long article on Justice Ginsburg, entitled “The Question Facing Ruth Bader Ginsburg: State or Go?