With that, The Wall Street Journal reports that SCOTUS will start "posting all court filings online as soon as 2016, Chief Justice John Roberts said in his year-end report on the federal judiciary."
The chief justice said that “[o]nce the system is implemented, all filings at the court—petitions and responses to petitions, merits briefs, and all other types of motions and applications—will be available to the legal community and the public without cost on the court’s website.”
As WSJ notes, "[s]imilar filings for lower federal courts have been available online to the public for years through the fee-based website pacer.gov, while state courts vary in the access they provide the public to their records."
This is great for law librarians and law students everywhere. Because "[w]hile paper copies of Supreme Court filings have been available for reporters and others to read at the courthouse in Washington, those unable to visit the building have had to rely on private organizations, such as Scotusblog, which have posted the documents online at their own expense. In periodic meetings regarding court coverage, journalists for years have requested immediate public access to docketed filings on the official website."
It's great that SCOTUS understands the importance of making these documents available to the public. Law students and lawyers can learn a lot from reading the briefs associated with a case to understand the precedent and legal arguments being made. This allows for a greater understanding of the opinion.