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Fowler, Johnson, Spriggs, Jeon and Wahlbeck on network analysis of Supreme Court opinions

Abstract: We construct the complete network of 28,951 majority opinions written by the U.S. Supreme Court and the cases they cite from 1792 to 2005. We illustrate some basic properties of this network and then describe a method for creating importance scores using the data to identify the most important Court precedents at any point in time. This method yields dynamic rankings that can be used to predict the future citation behavior of state courts, the U.S. Courts of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court, and these rankings outperform several commonly used alternative measures of case importance.

James H. Fowler, Timothy R. Johnson, James F. Spriggs, Sangick Jeon, and Paul J.Wahlbeck (2007) “Network Analysis and the Law: Measuring the Legal Importance of Supreme Court Precedents” Political Analysis 15: 324-346. Available here.

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