#FantasySCOTUS Update: Crowds and Algorithm Get Outcome In DirecTV v. Imburgia, but Miss Odd Split

December 14th, 2015

DirectTV v. Imburgia presented a question of whether the Federal Arbitration Act preempts California Law. The vote was 6-3, but in a relatively odd lineup. Justice Breyer wrote for the Court, joined by the Chief, and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Alito, and Kagan. Justice Thomas dissented by himself, noting that “that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U. S. C. §1 et seq., does not apply to proceedings in state courts,” keeping with his decisions in five previous cases.

I remain of the view that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U. S. C. §1 et seq., does not apply to proceedings in state courts. See Allied-Bruce Terminix Cos. v. Dobson, 513 U. S. 265, 285–297 (1995) (dissenting opinion); see also Preston v. Ferrer, 552 U. S. 346, 363 (2008) (same); Buckeye Check Cashing, Inc. v. Cardegna, 546 U. S. 440, 449 (2006) (same); Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Bazzle, 539 U. S. 444, 460 (2003) (same); Doctor’s Associates, Inc. v. Casarotto, 517 U. S. 681, 689 (1996) (same). Thus, the FAA does not require state courts to order arbitration. Accordingly, I would affirm the judgment of the California Court of Appeal.

Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justice Sotomayor, dissented arguing that the majority decision restricts “access to justice.”

Both the FantasySCOTUS Crowd and the {Marshall}+ Algorithm correctly predicted the outcome, but no one got the split. Both called them as unanimous reversals.


In a rare outcome, not a single user anywhere correctly predicted all 9 justices. A few users predicted that Ginsburg and Sotomayor alone would dissent, but these were in the slim minority.


Even more curious, only a handful predicted that Justice Thomas would affirm, but none of those users also predicted that only Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor would affirm as well. For whatever reason, Justice Thomas’s statements in those 5 previous cases did not resonate with our crowd.


Finally, this is a fairly divided opinion to be issued so early in the term. Usually the first month is all unanimous decisions.

That’s all for 2015. See you next year!