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How to Cite an Opinion of the Supreme Court in MLA Format


The Modern Language Association issues guidelines for formatting academic papers, journal articles and books published in the humanities. These guidelines ensure consistency of presentation and facilitate ease of research for scholars. Each year, the US Supreme Court makes decisions in cases, which it publishes in its own journal, entitled "US Reports." Academic writers following MLA specifications must follow a particular format when citing these decisions in the bibliographies of articles, papers and books.

Cite a Supreme Court decision referenced on the Internet by first typing the name of the first and second plaintiffs in the Supreme Court decision you wish to cite, separated by a "v." (without the quotation marks) and ended by a period mark. For instance, in the case of "Miranda v Arizona," the first plaintiff is "Miranda" and the second plaintiff is "Arizona." The names of the plaintiffs appear in the title of the decision you are citing.

Follow the period mark after plaintiffs with the volume and page number of the US Reports issue in which the court decision first appeared. List the volume number first, followed by "US" (without the quotes) to signify the publication, followed by the page number and a period mark. After this step, the citation of the Miranda case will appear: Miranda v. Arizona. 384 US 436.

Type the court that delivered the ruling and year of the decision after the period mark following the US Reports volume and page numbers. In the case of a Supreme Court decision, type "1966," (no quotes) which is the year the Court rendered its Miranda decision, followed by a comma and then "Supreme Court of the US" (no quotes) followed by a period. So far, the citation of the Miranda case will appear as Miranda v. Arizona. 384 US 436. Supreme Court of the US, 1966.

Follow the period mark after the year with the name of the website in italics, followed by a period and then the host, or sponsor of the website where you referenced the case (see Resources) followed by the date the website published it or "n.d." (no quotes) if no date is offered. To find the name of the website host, enter the URL of the website into the host locater text box on the "WhoIsHostingThis?" website (see Resources). With this information, The citation will now appear: Miranda v. Arizona. 384 US 436. Supreme Court of the US, 1966. US Supreme Court Center. Amazon.com, n.d.

Indicate that you found the above information on the Internet by adding "Web" followed by a period mark and then the date on which you retrieved the information from the website. The final MLA citation for Miranda v. Arizona will appear as Miranda v. Arizona. 384 US 436. Supreme Court of the US, 1966. US Supreme Court Center. Amazon.com, n.d. Web. May 25, 2011.

Cite a Supreme Court decision from a published copy of "US Reports" by listing the case followed by a period mark followed by the volume, "U.S. Reports" (no quotes), followed by the full date on which the Supreme Court rendered its decision in parentheses. Follow the closed parenthesis mark by a colon, followed by the page number or numbers and a period, followed by the word "Print" (no quotes) and a period mark. The MLA citation for a Supreme Court decision will appear: Miranda v. Arizona. 384 U.S. Reports (13 June 1966): 436. Print.

Tip
  • No quotation marks should appear in an MLA citation of a US Supreme Court case.
About the Author

Since 2005, James Rutter has worked as a freelance journalist for print and Internet publications, including the “News of Delaware County,” “Main Line Times” and Broad Street Review. As a former chemist, college professor and competitive weightlifter, he writes about science, education and exercise. Rutter earned a B.A. in philosophy and biology from Albright College and studied philosophy and cognitive science at Temple University.

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