Access to Supreme Court Materials

Though denial of access is rare, there remains a restriction on this portion of the papers.* To quote from the donor deposit agreement:

"Material from the Depositor's Supreme Court...files not already public information (is restricted), for so long as any member of the Supreme Court...with whom the Depositor served remains a member of the Supreme Court...,except with the written consent of Justice Powell....After Justice Powell's death..., the Archivist will make this determination with the approval of the Dean of the School of Law."

Because most of the information in Justice Powell's Supreme Court case files is "already public information," this restriction is now largely pro forma. So long as Justice Scalia, the sole remaining Justice with whom Powell shared the bench, is on the Court, however, this stricture must be observed.

Researchers wishing to use these materials should contact the archivist in advance of a planned visit to the Powell Archives. A brief summary of your research project would be appreciated. Send the request to:


John N. Jacob, Archivist 
Law Library
Washington and Lee University
1 Denny Circle
Lexington, VA 24450

 Though unrelated to access permission, prospective Supreme Court case file users can greatly facilitate their research by preparing a list of cases they wish to inspect. A list arranged by docket numbers within the Supreme Court terms in which the decisions were announced, while not necessary, would be the most helpful. Bringing such a list to the archives -- and especially  sending it in advance of arrival -- will insure best use of researcher and staff time.

*There are restrictions on some other portions of the papers, Fourth Circuit case files, and personal medical records are examples. Contact the archivist for more information.