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SCOTUS to Start Highlighting Changes in its Opinions

The US Supreme Court announced Monday that it will start highlighting changes to public released opinions. The changes will be highlighted in the text of the opinion and both the old and new material will be visible to readers by placing their cursor over the brightened sections.

This may not come as particularly earth-shattering news, but it is construed by some as a small concession by the Highest Court in response to complaints regarding the court's lack of transparency. Certain groups have actively pushed for the use of cameras in the Court, a notion that Justice Antonin Scalia has dismissed.

The Supreme Court reconvened this morning for the first oral arguments of the October 2015 term. The last term was full of headline-making cases. The Court recognized a fundamental right to same-sex marriage. It upheld Obamacare against another of seemingly endless challenges. It drastically reshaped public signage laws. (Okay, they can't all be sexy cases.)

This term promises to be just as important, if not more. It all starts today. Here are the cases we'll be watching as the term unfolds.

Today marks the tenth year of Chief Justice Roberts' reign over the Court. Originally considered as a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Roberts was nominated as Chief Justice following the passing of his former boss and mentor, William Rehnquist. During his nomination hearings, Justice Roberts said he wanted a modest court. That's not exactly what he's delivered.

From gun rights to gay rights, campaign donations to health care subsidies, the Roberts Court has overseen great changes in American law. "This is a court that really wants to be and is at center stage of American public life," according to U.C. Irvine's Erwin Chemerinsky. But the court's high profile has brought it condemnation from the left and the right alike.

It's an exciting time to be a SCOTUS fan. There are Scalia dolls being sold, Sotomayor danced salsa for the Nine, and Ginsburg is learning about gansta rap. Even Clarence Thomas is making some headlines!

But let's not forget, life -- and the Court -- isn't always pleasing. As Nietzsche said: "Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man." We at FindLaw couldn't agree more.

So, in the spirit of German nihilism and full, balanced listicle-making, here are nine depressing facts about the nine Supreme Court Justices:

The President keeps an open record of everyone who visits the White House. Congress broadcasts its most sleep-inducing business over three different C-SPAN channels. The Supreme Court? They like a bit more privacy.

That privacy is earning the Court a fair amount of criticism as it gets ready to begin its new term. From the cardinal halls of Stanford Law to the pink mail boxes of Palm Beach, Florida, the Supreme Court is facing accusations that it is too secretive in its doings.

Chicagoland radio fans got a bit of a Supreme Court treat this morning. Chicagoans who turned their dial to 98.7 FM WFMT found themselves listening to a rare guest DJ: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Notorious RBG took over the airwaves as a guest host for the afternoon.

This wasn't your regular Top 40 tunes, though. Justice Ginsburg didn't drop any gangsta rap (though she's admitted she's becoming more familiar with the genre). There were no original RBG dubstep remixes either. Instead, Justice Ginsburg spun tunes from her favorite genres: classical music and opera.

There's no question that Supreme Court decisions affect the economy. (Lochner, anyone?) But now, a new study has identified just how much of an impact recent Court rulings have had on Wall Street.

Between 1999 and 2013, 79 Supreme Court rulings have had identifiable effects on the market, the study found. In all, those 79 rulings lead to more than $140 billion in absolute changes in wealth. The most impactful cases resulted in companies' stocks soaring, or plummeting, by billions in a matter of hours.

We wrote last week about the small handful of lawyers who have had the most success as litigators before the Supreme Court, literally getting the Justices to adopt their words as the Court's own. Those ten attorneys stand out among even the most elite of Supreme Court practitioners, dominating an already small cadre of 66 lawyers who control Supreme Court litigation.

Of course, their expertise -- and success -- doesn't come cheaply. A single hour with the top Supreme Court litigators costs more than the average American family earns in a week.

Use active verbs. Keep your sentences short. Don't dwell too long on case history. Win in the Supreme Court. At least, that's the pattern identified by University of Southern California Ph.D. candidate Adam Feldman, who analyzed the writing style of Supreme Court briefs to see who had their brief language picked up by the Justices themselves.

That analysis, which looked at 9,400 briefs filed between 1946 and 2013, found a distinctive writing style associated with success in the Supreme Court. Not only does that writing help win cases, it finds its way into the High Court's opinions as well. Yep -- it's not just the law clerks who write the Justices' opinions. The most successful Supreme Court lawyers get their language in there as well.

For Supreme Court fans, and voracious readers, now's a great time to step into a book store. Richard Collins, of SCOTUSblog, recently put together a list of 18 new and forthcoming SCOTUS-focused tomes, from traditional biographies, to discussions of the legal system generally, to Court histories, political jeremiads, and academic reports.

Oh, and did we mention that Justice Breyer has a new book planned? His fourth since taking the bench, the new book is focused on American law and its connection to the rest of the world. Here's a preview of it and several of the others soon to be hot off the presses.