I'm citing the U.S. Supreme Court opinion Brown v Board of Education 347 U.S. 483 in an academic article that uses author-year in text citations. Hence I must deviate from the Bluebook style and unfortunately am completely unaware of best practices here.

For the year, I will simply use 1954, the date of the official report. Determining which author to use seems to pose a more difficult problem. Which author should I use? The justice who wrote the opinion? Currently I'm using "USSC".

  • 2
    What style manual does the publication use?
    – bdb484
    Jan 18, 2022 at 19:37
  • FWIW the date that matters for citing the date of a court decision is the date that the opinion in the case was decided by that court. One of the more controversial points is when to use a commercial reporter source form v. an institutionally developed publisher neutral citation form, for recent state court appellate decisions. Hence John v. Jones, 987 P.3d 673 (Colo. 2020) or John v. Jones, 2020CO57.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 19, 2022 at 1:48
  • @bdb484 The journal uses ASA.
    – user551504
    Jan 20, 2022 at 16:47

1 Answer 1


First of all, if the publication or outlet for which you are writing has a specific style guide, and that has a rule for citing court opinions, follow it.

If there is no such guide, or no such rule in the guide, my advice is not to try to shoehorn as court opinion into author/date format at all. Instead use a normal legal citation. I would cite that case as simply:

"Brown v Board of Education 347 U.S. 483"

This UPresearch page says:

The Chicago Manual of Style, like both MLA and APA, defers to The Bluebook for legal citations.

Legal publications only need to be cited in the notes, not the bibliography (unless you have a secondary publication, like a book in which the legal publication appears, in which case CMOS takes over).

See CMOS 14.288 Cases or court decisions—basic elements; CMOIS 14.289 United States Supreme Court decisions; CMOS 14.291 State- and local-court decisions; and CMOS 14.290 Lower federal-court decisions

This page from Ely Library says:


Basic Format
Name v. Name, Volume Source Page (Date).

Note: The volume and page numbers refer to U.S. Reports. All reporting services include this information. Ignore the "Cite As" at the head of the page in Supreme Court Reporter, because this form of the citation is not used in APA style.

United States v. Lane, 474 U.S. 438 (1986).

If you are referring to specific pages of a decision, use this...
Name v. Name, Volume Source First Page, Specific pg(s) (Date).


Basic Form
Name v. Name (Year)
(Name v. Name, Year)


The Supreme Court has held in United States v. Lane (1986) that misjoinder under Rule 8(b) is subject to harmless-error analysis.

The Supreme Court has held that misjoinder under Rule 8(b) is subject to harmless-error analysis (United States v. Lane, 1986).

The page "Chicago Citation Style Guide: Legal and Public Documents" from ISRC Librarys says:

Material Type Footnote/Endnote Bibliography
U.S. Supreme Court decisions Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U.S. 460, 465 (2009). Court cases are not included in the Bibliography.
Other courts decisions Jackson v. Florida, No. SC18-1531 (Fla. June 13, 2019). Court cases are not included in the Bibliography.
Constitutions U.S. Const. amend. XIX. Public documents are not included in the Bibliography.
Laws and statutes Border Tunnel Prevention Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-127, 126 Stat. 370 (2012). Laws and statutes are not included in the Bibliography.
Government documents U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, A Guide to Naturalization (Nov. 2016), 10. https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/article/M-476.pdf. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A Guide to Naturalization. Nov. 2016. https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/article/M-476.pdf.
  • 1
    Note that each country has its own style guide for legal citations as well, so a reference to a US Supreme Court case might be different there (or the style guide may defer to the foreign guide when citing foreign cases)
    – Dale M
    Jan 18, 2022 at 21:56
  • 1
    "my advice is not to try to shoehorn as court opinion into author/date format at all." I agree.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 19, 2022 at 1:49

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