B. Rudolph Delson


Typography in the U.S. Reports and Supreme Court Voting Protocols

B. Rudolph Delson

Supreme Court Justices frequently divide their opinions into parts, stncturing their decisions with Roman numerals, capital letters, Arabic numerals, and so on. This typographical convention, called here “outline-style formatting,” began to appear in the U.S. Reports in 1927 and has changed how the Justices create law. In this Note, Rudolph Delson presents a study of outline-style formatting in Supreme Court opinions. Delson suggests that stylistic concerns, such as the desire to make long opinions more approachable, drove the Court to adopt outline-style formatting. However, over time the Justices came to rely on outline-style formatting when they voted, joining in and dissenting from opinions on a part-by-part basis. Delson concludes that outline-style formatting is therefore no longer merely stylistic but now facilitates strategic behavior by the Justices.