Wikipedia:WikiProject U.S. Supreme Court cases/Style guide

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The following is a style guide for U.S. Supreme Court cases. It contains all the necessary information and, if followed, will give some structure to an article. Shorter articles don't need an outline. All of this may be varied as appropriate; use your judgment.

Article structure[edit]


Every U.S. Supreme Court case article should use {{Infobox SCOTUS case}}.


The lead should resemble the following:

Case name, XXX U.S. YYY (ZZZZ), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held ...

Relevant code: '''''Case name''''', {{scite|XXX|YYY|ZZZZ}}, was a [[Supreme Court of the United States|United States Supreme Court]] case in which the Court held ...


This section includes facts of the dispute, its history in lower courts, and relevant historical/political context. Subsections may include history, facts of the case, procedural history or lower courts (or even a subsection for each lower court, appropriately titled), and petition (for certiorari).

Oral arguments can go at the end of this section if you choose the "Opinion of the Court" style (see full explanation below).

Relevant code: == Background ==

[Meat of the article][edit]

There are two possible ways to structure the meat of the article, described in subsections below. Use whichever style seems most appropriate for the case. The "Supreme Court" style is designed for more lengthy, in-depth articles, but either structure is acceptable.

The most significant difference between the "Supreme Court" style and the "Opinion of the Court" style is that the "Supreme Court" style contains the arguments section while the "Opinion of the Court" style keeps oral arguments in the preceding "Background" section.

Supreme Court[edit]

This section should cover the arguments made, the opinion or judgment of the court, and any concurring or dissenting opinions.

Subsections or a paragraph for concurring and dissenting opinions can also be added as appropriate. Should be in the form of "Concurrences" and "Dissents" for section headers.

Relevant code: == Supreme Court ==

Opinion of the Court[edit]

This section should contain a summary of the Court's opinion as well as any important events of note that occurred during the case. Use this section for excerpts from the decision and precedents cited.

Subsections or a paragraph for concurring and dissenting opinions can also be added as appropriate. Should be in the form of "Concurrences" and "Dissents" for section headers.

Relevant code: == Opinion of the Court ==

Subsequent developments[edit]

Cases that clarify/reverse; relevant developments for the parties or dispute (outcome of remand/"Nixon turned over his tapes..."), social effects.

Refer forward to subsequent cases citing this decision as precedent.

Relevant code: == Subsequent developments ==


Relevant code:

  • == See also ==
  • == References ==
  • == External links ==

In the references section, conform to Wikipedia:Citing sources. Use Bluebook citation format and the {{ussc}} template, which produces 410 U.S. 113 (1973).

In the external links section, include a stable link to the decision (e.g. Oyez, LII, Justia, Altlaw). Conform to Wikipedia:External links.


A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. – Emerson

Why make pages consistent? Why have a (prescriptivist) style guide? For a few important reasons:

  1. Consistency helps readers: readers form expectations about how an article should be laid out and they form expectations about how similar articles will be laid out. When there is consistency and uniformity between like articles (such as articles about U.S. Supreme Court cases), it increases the utility and usability of our articles to readers.
  2. Consistency helps editors: When there's a sound structure for editors to follow, it makes articles easier to write!
  3. Consistency helps Wikipedia: It's common for editors to take an existing article and use it as a basis for a new article (cloning its structure, essentially). When current articles are consistent, future new articles will be consistent. Consistency among like articles also helps bots and scripts who want to take Wikipedia's content and re-use it.