When a judicial opinion cites something from the web, researchers should be able to check it later and find exactly what it looked like when it was cited.1
1 http://scotus.law.berkeley.edu, archived at https://perma.cc/Z7BV-CJNY
Courts cite the web, and the web is always changing. In the time between the moment when a website was cited and the time an opinion is published, information on that website can disappear or change subtly... or substantially.
This obscures and dilutes the value of citations to web resources in court documents. Over time, these unarchived resources are exposed ever more to the vagaries of the web—site reorganizations, domain-name lapses, etc. The citations become useless or increasingly suspect.
SCOTUS has begun to address this matter, but at present offers only PDFs made from printouts of webpages, and does so only weeks or months after the citing opinion was published.
Our system determines in near real-time when the Court publishes an opinion and promptly takes snapshots of the web pages it cites.
Though it's possible the web page has changed in the time between citation and publication of the opinion, this process catches the resource at the freshest possible moment.
As legal publishing evolves over time, we expect judges, clerks and others to use services like Harvard's perma.cc to create an archive of any web resource they cite and provide links to it as well.
This site was developed by Phil Ardery and is hosted by UC Berkeley Law Library.