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Scout Delivering Court Opinions Through the Awe-Inspiring Power of CourtListener

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Scout, the Sunlight Foundation's government search and alert system, is now delivering daily alerts on federal court opinions. Court opinions will be included by default — along with regulations, legislation, speeches, and reports — for any alert based on search terms.

If you've already set up alerts on Scout for search terms, and your alert ranges across all of our data types, you don't need to do anything: we've updated existing general search alerts to include opinions too.

We're able to do this because of the fantastic data and services offered by CourtListener. In November, the Free Law Project announced CourtListener's new API for court opinions. CourtListener is a search engine and data provider for a staggeringly large collection of millions of opinions across hundreds of jursidictions at the federal and state level. The Free Law Project is a California-based non-profit that operates CourtListener, and is run by Michael Lissner and Brian Carver.

While CourtListener has offered its data in bulk to the public for some time, the addition of an API meant that we could integrate Scout directly with CourtListener, without having to manage a gigantic database of court opinions ourselves. CourtListener's support of advanced search queries and highlighted search result snippets means we could plug it into Scout without needing to add any additional features. While bulk data is always a top priority, an API greatly lowered the barrier to reuse CourtListener's court opinions.

For the moment, we're limiting results to federal appellate and special courts, but we'll expand this over time. When we do, CourtListener's simple API will make this very straightforward for us.

Thanks to the Free Law Project for support during the integration process, and for providing such an outstanding national resource.