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The Courts Math Technology

Algorithm Predicts US Supreme Court Decisions 70% of Time 177

stephendavion writes A legal scholar says he and colleagues have developed an algorithm that can predict, with 70 percent accuracy, whether the US Supreme Court will uphold or reverse the lower-court decision before it. "Using only data available prior to the date of decision, our model correctly identifies 69.7 percent of the Court's overall affirm and reverse decisions and correctly forecasts 70.9% of the votes of individual justices across 7,700 cases and more than 68,000 justice votes," Josh Blackman, a South Texas College of Law scholar, wrote on his blog Tuesday.
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Algorithm Predicts US Supreme Court Decisions 70% of Time

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  • biased algorith (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dthief ( 1700318 ) on Thursday August 07, 2014 @05:38AM (#47621123)
    I (read: anyone) can make an algorithm that fits any previous data (even only using data that precedes the "prediction")......testing future predictability is the only way this means anything.
  • Useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Thursday August 07, 2014 @05:52AM (#47621169)

    According to [] the Supreme Court recently affirmed 27% of lower court decisions and reversed 73%. This means that if you guess that the Supreme Court reverses the lower court every time, you'll be 73% accurate. 70% accuracy is ridiculously low if you can get 73% accuracy *without* taking into consideration the records of each justice or any other kind of details.

  • Re:biased algorith (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 07, 2014 @05:53AM (#47621171)

    That's why you should always divide your data set into one subset for fitting/training of the algorithm, and another subset to verify its predictive ability.

    The algo doesn't know or care whether the data is actually from the future. That is irrelevant as long as it wasn't fitted on it.

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday August 07, 2014 @05:55AM (#47621175) Homepage

    if defendant.bank_balance > plaintiff.bank_balance
          winner = defendant
          winner = plaintiff

    I'd guess about 90% accurate.

  • Re:biased algorith (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Euler ( 31942 ) on Thursday August 07, 2014 @08:08AM (#47621581) Journal

    You could train it with 80% of the historical data and see if it predicts the next 20% of historical data.

  • Re:Replace them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Thursday August 07, 2014 @10:06AM (#47622237) Journal

    Lawyers: We want people to carry their rights with them, even when operating as a group of people Congress defined as a "corporation" because Congress cannot force them to give up their First Amendment rights.

    Scotus (in the voice of Nomad): Logic correct. Opposing lawyers are in error. Must sterilize.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Thursday August 07, 2014 @10:34AM (#47622423) Homepage Journal

    my algorithm is even better, and even more accurate. its simple: What is the worst possible outcome for the citizenry?

    I don't know about the accuracy of your SCOTUS result-picking algorithm, but you and mwvdlee have a good algorithm to get modded up on slashdot: Just express deep cynicism about the system. Doesn't have to be true in the slightest.

    FWIW, I watch SCOTUS pretty closely, and I'd say their bad decisions are fairly rare. I'm unhappy with the outcome in a larger minority of cases, but it's not very common that upon reading the opinions and dissents that I find myself ultimately in disagreement with their conclusions. And in most cases I think they not only make the right legal call, but the right call for the citizenry (though that isn't, and shouldn't be, their primary focus).

    Of course, you and I may well disagree about some of the decisions.

  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Thursday August 07, 2014 @01:42PM (#47624277)

    The Supreme Court is dominated by a bunch of fanatic right wing corporate toadies.
    So, the decision comes down in favor of corporations (on economic issues) or social conservatives (on social issues).
    The Constitution has nothing to do with it.
    The Supreme Court is the ultimate cheerleader for our fascist state.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.