Thanks to the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Kent College of Law, audio recordings of U.S. Supreme Court arguments going back to 1955 are now available online. If you’ve never heard the Justices deliberate before, doing so can provide some very revealing insights into the positions behind decisions the Court has made over the years.
The Oyez database is searchable and can also be sorted in a number of ways to help locate cases of interest, including by year or by case type.
According to NPR’s article on the project, the recordings also provide a glimpse into how the court has evolved its daily practices over time. According to the article, the founder of the Oyez site, Jerry Goldman, had this to say on that point:
“In the 1950s and ’60s, advocates could elaborate at length without interruption, drone on in some circumstances,” he says. “That is very rare in the Supreme Court today. I don’t think you can get 20 words in before someone on the bench poses a question.”
I would think these recordings would be a rich source of information for students, researchers, journalists, and others interested in mining them for political science, social science, or legal studies.
Give them a listen!