HeinOnline's Tip of the Week: How to Locate a Slip Opinion by Case Name or Number & Search Within the Opinion

Have you ever wanted to quickly locate a slip opinion in the U.S. Reports and run a search within the opinion to find key words or terms? If so, this week’s tip outlines how to quickly locate the opinion using the case name or number, and then how to search within it for your key terms. For the purposes of this example, we are going to focus on the District of Columbia et al. v. Heller case that argues and discusses the interpretation of the second amendment and the right to posses a firearm. We know it was published as a slip opinion in June 2008 and the number is 07-290. Therefore, we can locate the opinion by searching for the case name or the number.

To do this, open the U.S. Supreme Court Library in HeinOnline. Then click on the search tab and click on the Advanced Search option.

The U.S. Reports Slip Opinion numbers in HeinOnline are all tagged as descriptions, thus allowing us to search across the "description" field for the number. NOTE: To search across the description field, we must use the advanced search option.

For example, to find 07-290, enter the following search syntax into the advanced search box and then click search.


This will give us 1 result with a direct link to the slip opinion.

We could also search for the case by the case name. To do this, we could enter the syntax as, title:"Heller", highlight U.S. Reports Slip Opinions from the title listing, and click search. This will also return 1 result with a direct link to the opinion.

The text of the opinion is over 40 pages and we specifically want to hone in on the part that discusses the Presser case from 1886 and the courts decision reaffirming that the Second Amendment acts as a limitation upon only the federal government and not the states. To find references to this case quickly within the opinion we can search within our result by clicking on "Search Within These Results".

Now enter the following search syntax into the search box and click search:


The search result will appear just as the result did above, however now it will display a link that says "View Matching Text Pages". Click on this link to expand the list of matching text results to our phrase "Presser". In this case, we have five links to pages within the slip opinion that discuss the 1886 Presser case.

This shortcut allows you to quickly search for the Slip Opinion, using the case name or number, and then search within the slip opinion for key words or terms.

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