Case Info

Case Title: A case title consists of the parties involved in the case. For example: Cherokee Nation v. Georgia.

Citation: The citation indicates the volume of United States Reports (the official published record of U.S. Supreme Court rulings) in which the case is published and the page on which the case begins. For example, the citation for Cherokee Nation v. Georgia is 30 U.S. 1. The use of “U.S.” here is an abbreviation for United States Reports. The citation indicates that the official record of the U.S. Supreme Court case Cherokee Nation v. Georgia will be found beginning on page 1 of volume 30 of the United States Reports. (You will also encounter alternative citation styles created and used by private entities that publish and sell court records; for the purposes of our course, you can ignore them.)


To find the case record enter its citation into the WestLawNext search box. Try this for Cherokee Nation v. Georgia.

TIP: If you do not see the search box, try a different browser.


Majority Opinion

Majority Opinion: The majority opinion, which is often written by one of the justices and joined by the majority of the court’s justices, generally includes the “facts” of the case, the central question(s) before the court, the central issue(s) of law before the court, the rationale undergirding the court’s judgment, and the decision of the court.

  • Hint: A case’s majority opinion is generally the most important component of a case. It establishes the concluding disposition of the case and also contributes to the body of case law that serves as binding precedent for future cases.
  • Hint: A case’s majority opinion will generally begin with “Justice [NAME] delivered the opinion of the court.”
  • Hint: The disposition of a case is generally stated at the end of the majority opinion and it often is followed by the sentence “It is so ordered.”



Concurring Opinion(s)

Concurring Opinion(s): A concurring opinion agrees with the judgement of the majority but offers one or more alternative or additional rationales for this decision.

  • Hint: Concurring opinions appear after the case’s majority opinion and generally begin with a signal paragraph that includes the name(s) of the concurring justice(s) and the word “concurring.”

Dissenting Opinion(s)

Dissenting Opinion(s): A dissenting opinion disagrees with the majority’s judgement and the legal rationale used by the majority.

  • Hint: Dissenting opinions appear after the case’s concurring opinion(s) (or after the majority opinion if no concurring opinions are present). Dissents generally begin with a signal paragraph that includes the name(s) of the dissenting justice(s) and the word “concurring.”


Previous Cases Cited

 Previous Cases Cited: In order to establish authority Justices cite already existing cases when writing their court opinions.  These references are included directly within the opinions.

  • Hint: To quickly find the previous cases cited use the Table of Authorities tab in WestLawNext.


Citing References

Citing References are subsequent court cases that refer back to primary case under consideration.  This is important because it reflects the ongoing impact of the case. 

  • Hint: To find the citing references use the Citing Reference tab in WestLawNext.

TIP: Select Citing Reference Tab, to the left click on cases, under Jurisdiction click on + sign by Federal and check Supreme Court box.


WestLawNext Practice Questions

 1.  Which citation will find the the case Cherokee Nation Versus Georgia?


2. What does the yellow warning flag mean?

 TIP: WestLawNext Campus Research Guide


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