Court-Watching Made Easy

We’re a little over 1 month into the Supreme Court’s 2010 term, and there have already been some interesting arguments touching on, among other things, the sale of video games to minors and the Westboro Baptist Church. You can follow the developments at the Court on the news, but there are also some great websites that track what’s going on, from grant of certiorari to decision.

SCOTUSblog, one of the best sources for Court news, keeps track of the most interesting recent petitions for certiorari and recently granted petitions. To prepare for oral argument, you can check the Legal Information Institute’s oral argument previews, and SCOTUSblog’s collection of briefs and other case documents. And, of course, after the argument you can check out the audio on the Supreme Court’s website and at the Oyez Project; starting with the 2010 term, transcripts and audio will be posted on Friday of every argument week. When the opinion is finally handed down, you can follow the happenings live at SCOTUSblog, get the syllabus sent automatically to your email account from the LII, see a visual representation of the votes from Oyez, and download the full slip opinion from the Supreme Court.

If that’s not enough, you can play some Oyez Baseball and find out where your favorite former Justice is buried. Or you could use all of this information to dominate your own FantasySCOTUS league!

Be an Informed Voter

Ballotpedia is one of the more fascinating sites that you’ve probably never heard of. It’s a freely editable wiki, like Wikipedia, but much, much more specialized. With a couple of clicks, you can find out what measures are currently on the ballot across the country, details on all of the state legislative elections, and all sorts of information on what’s going on with the Georgia elections.

Ballotpedia also has a lot of historical information. Want to see what measures were on the Georgia ballot in 2004? Or 2000? You can find them there. In many cases you can even find a link to the full text of the measure or the official election results. And, of course, Ballotpedia will be updating the site tomorrow with all of the latest results.

Use FDsys.gov for federal gov docs

If you’ve been using www.gpoaccess.gov to access federal government documents, prepare yourselves for a long-awaited arrival:  the Federal Digital System, found at www.fdsys.gov!   The Government Printing Office has announced that, at the end of 2010, FDsys will be the GPO’s electronic system of record for government publications.

From now through the end of 2010, the sites will operate concurrently, but in 2011 you’ll have to use FDsys to retrieve the United States Code, Code of Federal Regulations, presidential documents, the Federal Register, the United States Government Manual, and many other useful government resources.  The COL Library encourages you to take the time to explore the FDsys site and how it functions.  There are helpful tutorials available, demonstrating how you can search or browse using the site.  Because the site is currently in public beta, the GPO is seeking public feedback.  Now is the time to share your thoughts about the new site!

An exciting feature of FDsys is the number of authenticated government documents.  The GPO takes a number of steps to assure that many of the electronic government documents are unaltered from their original publication.  The authenticated  documents available on FDsys have visible digital signatures.  A verified, authentic document will contain a Seal of Authenticity.  The seal is a graphic of an eagle and the words “Authenticated U.S. Government Information.”  Visit www.fdsys.gov and click on a recent piece of popular legislation–like the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act–to see the digital signature.