Getting an edge at SCOTUS prediction

May 17, 2010



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One of our favorite pastimes is conjecture about the Supreme Court.  Recently, the nomination of Elena Kagan has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  However, on a regular basis, we usually look at upcoming cases, predict which way the court will go, and dissect the court’s opinion the instant it comes out.  There are even “fantasy” leagues devoted to predicting the outcome of cases modeled after fantasy sports games. 

 If you want to get in on the predictive action, you are going to need information about the cases and what the attorneys are arguing.  The first step is to figure out in which cases the court has granted certiorari.  This is pretty easy to do, since the Supreme Court publishes it cert decisions.  Just head over to the SCT database and run this search to get cases where cert was granted in 2010 and not just for the purpose of remanding the case for reconsideration in light of a recent decision:

PETITION +S CERTIORARI +S GRANTED & da(2010) % REMAND!   

  As the Supreme Court is typically extremely terse when granting cert, if you want to actually know anything about the substance of the case, you’ll have to scroll to the bottom and look at the petitions and briefs that have been filed.  

 If you’d rather search for cases being argued only on areas of interest to you, search the SCT-BRIEF database.  Here is an example for finding recent briefs dealing with free speech.

da(2010) & “FIRST AMENDMENT” /P SPEECH  

  If you want to really geek out on the Supreme Court, you can start trying to predict which cases they will grant cert.  For that, you’ll need to look at the petitions database.  Since there are a lot of petitions filed, you might want to look for particular cases of import.  For example, you may want to get an edge in your fantasy football league by predicting what the Supreme Court will do with the StarCaps case and how that will affect the Minnesota Vikings season.  To find the petition by the NFL for review of the 8th circuit decision in the Kevin and Pat Williams case, search by party name in SCT-PETITION:

ti(“national football league” and williams)  

The ability to find and review the briefs and petitions in pending Supreme Court cases is sure to give you an edge in all your fantasy leagues and give you plenty to chat about around the water cooler.