ARCHIVED: Letter Commending New Court Policy of Providing Same Day Access to Oral Argument Transcripts

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Sarah (Sally) Holterhoff, President
Valparaiso University
School of Law Library
Government Information and Reference Librarian
Wesemann Hall
656 Greenwich Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
t. 219-465-7866
f. 219-465-7917

October 2, 2006

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.
Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street N.E.
Washington, DC 20543

Dear Chief Justice Roberts:

On behalf of the American Association of Law Libraries, I commend you for your leadership in instituting a new policy of providing free, same day online access to the Supreme Court's oral argument transcripts beginning with the October 2006 term. This is a very welcome step toward greater transparency for the Court. Our Nation's law libraries, the legal community and the American public will benefit greatly from prompt public access to this important information.

AALL is a nonprofit educational organization with over 5000 members nationwide. Our members respond to the legal information needs of a variety of users: legislators, judges, and other public officials at all levels of government, corporations and small businesses, law professors and students, attorneys, and members of the general public. AALL's mission is to promote and enhance the value of law libraries, to foster law librarianship and to provide leadership and advocacy in the field of legal information and information policy.

Previously, only individuals who were present for oral arguments and those willing to pay for same day transcripts had timely access to the proceedings. With today's new technologies that provide broad public access to the Internet, millions of citizens now will have the ability to follow the activities of the Court more closely. They will be able to follow Court proceedings the day they occur and educate themselves more thoroughly on the significant legal issues under consideration by the Court.

Access to government information is a core principle of our democracy and a key value of AALL and the law library community. The provision of free, same day access to oral argument transcripts and the Court's recent decision to identify Justices with oral argument questions in the transcripts signal that under your leadership, the Court is moving to take optimum advantage of the opportunities of the digital age. Law librarians are grateful for your commitment to providing greater transparency at the Supreme Court, a step that will also increase the public's trust and confidence in our judicial system. Thank you very much.


Sarah (Sally) Holterhoff