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The Psychology of the Supreme Court$
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Lawrence S. Wrightsman

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195306040

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306040.001.0001

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Can the Court’s Decisions Be Predicted?

Can the Court’s Decisions Be Predicted?

Chapter:
(p.229) 10 Can the Court’s Decisions Be Predicted?
Source:
The Psychology of the Supreme Court
Author(s):

Lawrence S. Wrightsman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306040.003.0010

This chapter explores the actual degree of predictability of outcomes of cases, as well as the votes of individual justices. It presents three hypotheses about the predictability of outcomes, and all are verified. Accuracy of predictions emerges much more strongly for cases involving ideology-driven issues; some justices (mostly the conservatives) are more predictable than others; and the statistical model fared fairly well in most types of cases, but the experts' predictions were not much higher than chance. However, no system of prediction is perfect. Of 72 cases in the 2002-2003 term, in seven (or almost 10 percent), the decision of the Court was contrary to the prediction from the statistical model and that of every expert used by the Washington University Forecasting Project.

Keywords:   Supreme Court, judicial decision-making, case outcomes, justices

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