This variable contains the docket number that the Supreme Court has assigned to the case. Prior to the first two terms of the Burger Court (1969-1970), different cases coming to the Court in different terms could have the same docket number. The Court eliminated the possibility of such duplication by including the last two digits of the appropriate term before the assigned docket number. Since the 1971 Term, the Court has also operated with a single docket. Cases filed pursuant to the Court's appellate jurisdiction have a two-digit number corresponding to the term in which they were filed, followed by a hyphen and a number varying from one to five digits. Cases invoking the Court's original jurisdiction have a number followed by the abbreviation, "Orig."
Note that during much of the legacy period, the Court did not assign docket numbers to its cases.
For administrative purposes, the Court uses the letters, "A," "D," and "S," in place of the term year to identify applications ("A") for stays or bail, proceedings of disbarment or discipline of attorneys ("D"), and matters being held indefinitely for one reason or another ("S"). These occur infrequently and then almost always in the Court's summary orders at the back of each volume of the U.S.Reports. The database excludes these cases, the overwhelming majority of which are denials of petition for certiorari.
A handful of cases in the database lack a docket number. For these, the docket variable has no entry.
Finally, note that the Court can consolidate multiple petitions--each with its own docket number--under one U.S. cite. If you are interested in only the first (lead) case, use the database organized by Supreme Court citation. If you are interested in all the cases consolidated under one cite, select the data grouping 'organize by docket, which is found at the end of the analysis panel.
Note that for the heritage cases (pre-1946 term) I only provide the lead case/docket number. This was done to avoid excesive duplication of cases. Multiple docket numbers under a single case citation almost always contain the same issue as the lead case and differ only in the parties to the case and its origin and source (qv.).
Voting & Opinion Variables