Media Coverage of FantasyJustice

November 20th, 2016

LexPredict launched FantasyJustice five days ago, and it has already ginned up a lot of interest in the SCOTUS-sweepstakes.

From USA Today, “Supreme Court wannabes audition in Scalia’s shadow.”

Among those praised most frequently in the corridors outside the meeting rooms were Pryor, Sykes and Willett — the latter, like Trump, a frequent presence on Twitter. Other favorites included Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, the only non-judge on the list, and federal appeals court Judge Neal Gorsuch of Colorado.

Josh Blackman, an associate law professor at South Texas College of Law who maintains the website FantasySCOTUS, is conducting an online poll of who his colleagues expect to be named. Gorsuch and Pryor are in the lead, followed by Kethledge, Sykes and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is not on Trump’s list.

From The National Law Journal,“Pryor, Kethledge Lead ‘Fantasy’ Poll to Predict Trump’s SCOTUS Pick” (PDF):

A “Fantasy SCOTUS” poll launched Tuesday to predict President-elect Donald Trump’s first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court has put federal appeals judges Raymond Kethledge and William Pryor in the lead.

The crowdsourcing survey, the brainchild of Supreme Court blogger and scholar Josh Blackman, got it right in 2010 when Elena Kagan “floated to the top” before President Barack Obama nominated her, as Blackman put it in an interview. “No doubt, President Obama checked our site,” Blackman joked on his blog.

Kethledge is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and a former law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy. Pryor is an Eleventh Circuit judge whose nomination, if it comes to pass, will infuriate liberals because he has called Roe v. Wade the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.”

Also trending on the list was Texas Supreme Court Judge Don Willett and Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Sykes.

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For the competition, Blackman posted 22 names of possible nominees for participants to choose from, including the 21 that Trump announced before the election plus Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose name has also been bandied about in recent days.

Blackman, an associate professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, said Cruz has a “nontrivial” chance to be nominated and confirmed, in part because some senators would like nothing better than for him to leave the Senate. “I’m from Texas, and if Ted Cruz stays in the Senate, he’ll be re-elected until he is 90,” Blackman said.

Thousands of law students as well as lawyers in private and government practice will likely vote in the FantasySCOTUS competition, Blackman said. Voting will be allowed until Inauguration Day, next Jan. 20. LexPredict is providing assistance.

Blackman has used the fantasy league model for more than seven years, mainly as an educational tool to encourage high school students and others to learn about pending Supreme Court cases and predict their outcomes. He claims a 71 percent accuracy rate in predicting outcomes of cases.

In April, high school student teams that participated in FantasySCOTUS converged on the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to compete with briefs and oral arguments. The Harlan Institute and the Constitutional Sources Project helped sponsor the event.

Will FantasySCOTUS have an impact on Trump’s pick? Blackman said he was not sure, but added, “Donald Trump loves polls.”

From the ABA Journal, “Who will Trump pick from his ‘heartland’ SCOTUS justice list? FantasySCOTUS launches contest with 22“:

Who will Donald Trump pick as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia?

He already has a list of 21 potential nominees, all of them conservative. But they represent a break from recent tradition, the New York Times reports in a Sidebar column by Adam Liptak. Current conservative justices attended Harvard or Yale law schools, and they served on federal appeals courts in the Northeast or in California.

“If the list has a main theme,” the Times says, “it is that there are plenty of good judges who went to law school at places like Notre Dame, Marquette, the University of Georgia and the University of Miami. About half of Mr. Trump’s candidates sit on state supreme courts, and almost all those who sit on federal appeals courts do so in the heartland.”

Those who feel like making predictions on the next nominee can do so in a new #FantasyJustice tournament by FantasySCOTUS and LexPredict, according to Josh Blackman’s Blog. Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, is one of the creators of FantasySCOTUS. The #FantasyJustice list has the 21 names on Trump’s list, as well as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who was backed by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, during a Veterans Day event, Politico reported.

Lawyers who spoke with the New York Times told of their favorites from Trump’s list. They backed Judge William Pryor Jr. of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who has called Roe v. Wade “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history”; Justice Joan Larsen of the Michigan Supreme Court, a former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia; and Judge Margaret Ryan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, a former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas.

From the Daily Caller, “Here Are The Early Favorites For Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee“:

One of the highest priorities for the incoming Trump administration is selecting a nominee to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Though it’s difficult to assess who Trump might pick from the list of possible candidates his campaign compiled during the general election, some Court-watchers are placing bets on the early favorites.

Josh Blackman, a law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, is curating a LexPredict contest at FantasySCOTUS which allows entrants to pick the most likely nominee from Trump’s 21-person list (plus Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, given rumors abounding on Capitol Hill). FantasySCOTUS is a Supreme Court fantasy league which allows participants to make predictions about cases before the Court, which Blackman also runs. Both FantasySCOTUS and his blog have a following among lawyers, journalists, and law professors.

From LawNewz, “Fantasy Sports Goes Legal! New Site Lets You Predict Supreme Court Decisions”:

FantasySCOTUS allows Supreme Court followers to predict how the Court will decide individual cases, down to how many justices vote to affirm or reverse a decision, as well as who will vote which way. If sounds incredibly nerdy, it is. But it’s a nerdy habit that could earn you money. While it’s free to play, the site has $10,000 in prizes up for grabs for the most accurate prognosticators.

But the predictions themselves could prove most valuable. Most users will likely be law students, professors, practicing attorneys, and others with a watchful eye on the legal issues presented before the Supreme Court, and the justices who decide them. Each listed case shows how users in general are expecting a given case to go. With such expertise, it could be a solid indicator of how the judicial branch will behave (for example, the recently argued Samsung v. Apple case is expected to be reversed in an 8-0 decision, as is last week’s Wells Fargo v. Miami. Of course, like all fantasy leagues, there are bound to be many participants who stop paying attention mid-season (er, mid-term), and guess randomly, which could taint the data.

FantasySCOTUS is sponsored by LexPredict, a legal analytics and service provider, founded by law professors Michael J. Bommarito and Daniel Martin Katz. LexPredict has also developed their own algorithm that predicts Supreme Court outcomes. According to the FantasySCOTUS homepage, the algorithm has 70% accuracy.

From Charisma News, “Here’s Who the Legal Experts Say Will Replace Antonin Scalia”:

Using the “Supreme Court fantasy league” FantasySCOTUS, a group of legal experts have been picking who they think is most likely to be selected from the “20-plus-1” list of candidates. Josh Blackman, a law professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston, runs the website that is popular with lawyers, judges and journalists who cover the federal courts.