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Nate Silver Writes on New York Times Blog About The Wise High Schoolers Who Predicted On FantasySCOTUS

Who came out looking better than the pundits? Interestingly, it may be high school students.

High school students participating in a Supreme Court “fantasy league”sponsored by the nonprofit Harlan Institute had been about evenly divided in predicting the court’s decision, with 57 percent thinking the mandate would be overturned and 43 percent saying it would be upheld.

Nor did the oral arguments in the case, which substantially affected the conventional wisdom, alter the students’ opinions much. Instead, they had seen the case as a tossup from the beginning.

I suspect these students would have been wise enough to avoid some of the counterintuitive speculation about the decision’s political effects that you will now be seeing on television.

Read more at 538 Blog.

Final FantasySCOTUS.net Predictions for Health Care Cases #SCOTUS

In approximately twelve hours, the Supreme Court will decide the consolidated Health Care Cases. Here are our final predictions.

The mandate is going to be struck down, and it will be severed.

The threshold question is whether the suit is permitted by the Anti-Injunction Act? The 11th Circuit held that suit was not barred by the AIA.

  • 94.28% predict that the suit can proceed, notwithstanding the AIA.
  • 5.72% predict that the suit will be barred by the AIA
Since oral argument, the numbers have increased somewhat as to whether the AIA will serve as a jurisdictional bar.
The most critical question is whether the individual mandate exceeds Congress’ powers, and is unconstitutional. The 11th Circuit held that the mandate exceeded Congress’s powers and is unconstitutional.

  • 57.14% predict that the Court will find the mandate unconstitutional.
  • 42.86% predict that the Court will uphold the mandate.
  • Of particular interest, 58.1% of members predict that Justice Kennedy will vote to strike down the mandate. Chief Justice Roberts, as well as Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito are all predicted to strike down the mandate at 72.1%, 82.9%, 89.0%, and 83.4% respectively.
Following oral argument, the percentage of voters who think the mandate will be struck down as jumped from about 51% to 57%. There has been a lot of movement in the last week or so.
Assuming the mandate is unconstitutional, the Court will next consider whether the mandate is severable from the remainder of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The 11th Circuit held that the mandate was severable.

  • 68.67% predict that the Court will sever the mandate from PPACA.
  • 31.33% predict that the Court will find that the mandate is not severable.
  • Of note, 67.5% of members predict that Justice Kennedy will vote to find the mandate severable.
The severability numbers have dropped, while the mandate unconstitutional numbers has increased. This tells me that people think that the entire ACA is going down.
The final question is whether the expansion of Medicaid is constitutional. The 11th Circuit found that the expansion was in fact constitutional.

  • 74.38% predict that the Court will uphold the Medicaid expansion.
  • 25.62% predict that the Court will find the Medicaid expansion unconstitutional.

This is really the sleeper issue. The numbers dropped right after argument, but have leveled off.

A Note From Our Friends at ConSource To The Winners of the ConSource Badge

Dear ConSource Badge Winners,

Thank you for participating in the FantasySCOTUS program and congratulations on earning the ConSource badge. The blog posts you submitted display a great amount of effort and creativity.  It is clear that you put active thought into the meaning of the First Amendment as it pertains to student speech both inside and outside of school.  What was particularly impressive was your use of examples from your own school policies, as well as facts drawn from J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District and Layshock v. Hermitage School District.

As students, you should always strive to improve your writing. One way to construct a more compelling legal argument is to cite additional source materials outside of the case law itself. For example, a number of you reference the idea that citizens of the United States should have the freedom to voice their own opinions, no matter the content. To explore the extent to which this broad statement is true, you may want to look to the history of the First Amendment. Start with a direction citation to the First Amendment’s broad and absolute terms.

From there, you can seek out the meaning of those words by looking at the ideas the Framers discussed and debated before they settled on the language “Congress shall makes no law […] abridging the freedom of speech.” For instance, the Framers often referred collectively to “the rights of Conscience,” which were closely intertwined with both the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech. Take a look at the Senate’s debates on the Bill of Rights amendments, in letters exchanged between the Amendment’s Framers, and in the state ratification records to determine if the freedom of conscience is broader or different than the freedom of speech. Consider why the Framers might have decided not to use the language “freedom of conscious.” Would swapping the word “speech” for “conscience” impact the rights of students to express themselves inside and outside of school?

With these questions in mind, and the tools available to answer them on the ConSource website and elsewhere, you will be able to further develop your already excellent legal arguments. If you would like to continue working on your legal analysis of student speech, please feel free to email me at Julie.Silverbrook@consource.org. I am always delighted to work with students to help you develop your legal and historical reading and writing skills.

Keep up the good work!

Julie Silverbrook

Executive Director

The Constitutional Sources Project

Harlan Institute’s Work On Big Data Featured in ABA Journal

The ABA Journal featured a post on Big Data and the Law, and featured the work of the Harlan Institute:

Databases of historical legal information are being built that could help lawyers calculate the odds of winning a case and how to craft the arguments.

• The nonprofit Harlan Institute, which promotes interest in the Supreme Court, is also investigating quantitative legal prediction. It’s an outgrowth of a Supreme Court fantasy league launched by lawyer Josh Blackman. He suggests in a law review article that it could be “quite conceivable for a bot to crawl through all of the filings in Pacer … and develop a comprehensive database of all aspects of how each court works.”

Congratulations to the Winners of FantasySCOTUS.org October Term 2011

Congratulations to the winners of the second season of FantasySCOTUS.org.

The grand prize winner is Ms. Dayna Laur’s AP Government Class at Central York High School in York, Pennsylvania. Ms. Laur’s class scored a record 25,300 points from earning over 125 badges. The quality of their work is simply astonishing, and each student in the class should be commended. Ms. Laur’s class will receive an iPad as a prize.

The second-place team is Ms. Erin Olson’s AP English class at Sioux Central High School in Sioux Central, Iowa. Ms. Olson, whose class was featured on the front page of the New York Times for her ingenuous use of technology in the classroom. Ms. Olson’s students wrote a number of important blog posts, and earned several badges for our special Bill of Rights Institute and ConSource contests. Ms. Olson’s class will receive a $100 Amazon.com Gift Card as a Prize.

The third-place team is Ms. Wendy Wolfe’s Constitutional and Criminal Law class at Totino-Grace High School in Fridley, Minnesota. In Ms. Wolfe’s first season participating in FantasySCOTUS, her team narrowly missed second place. Ms. Wolfe’s class will receive a $50 Amazon.com Gift Card as a Prize.

We also had several runner-ups who will each receive a $25 Amazon.com Gift Card:

Congratulations to all of the teachers and students who participated in FantasySCOTUS this year. We hope you all return next year.


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The Harlan Institute

Learn more about the Harlan Institute.


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