Access to Supreme Court Materials

The Supreme Court case files and other materials are open to researchers.* The usual restriction on personally identifiable information of individuals is in place. This occurs mostly in correspondence files.

Justice Powell wrote in his 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."
With the February 2016 death of Justice Scalia, all of the Justices with whom Powell sat are now off of the Supreme Court bench. This restriction no longer applies.

Researchers wishing to use these materials should contact the archivist in advance of a planned visit to the Powell Archives. 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 ensure 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.