With the conclusion of March Madness comes a new drama for April – the 2014 Supreme Court Challenge, hosted by Bloomberg Law and SCOTUSblog.  Last week, teams of law students made predictions for the outcomes in six merits cases and six cert. petitions to be considered this month, and now we wait to see what happens.  Here are the cases for this year’s competition and how the teams predict they will turn out.

Merits cases:

American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo

In this case involving public performance and copyright restrictions, the students strongly anticipate a win for the broadcast industry, with 71.7% of teams forecasting that outcome and only 28.3% expecting Aereo to succeed.  The students are more divided on how exactly the industry will prevail, with nine-zero and various five-four splits proving the most common selections.

Limelight Networks v. Akamai Technologies

This dispute, involving the question of divided infringement, marks the sole case in which the students conclude that the respondent will emerge victorious.  But support for Akamai is not overwhelming:  60.5% of teams expect it to prevail, while 39.5% predict a win for Limelight. With no one pattern of votes gaining much traction, the team predictions do not provide much more specific guidance on how this case might be decided.

Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments

The teams largely envision a positive outcome for Nautilus, the petitioner in this patent case, with 69.2% of teams expecting it to prevail and only 39.5% of teams predicting victory for Biosig.  Should you trust the students, prepare for a unanimous decision in favor of Nautilus, the most common pick made by the teams.

Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital

The teams find themselves in moderate agreement on the outcome of this case involving post-judgment discovery and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, with 60.5% of teams expecting Argentina to prevail; only 39.5% of teams predict that NML Capital will prove victorious.  If the student predictions come to pass, it could be a decisive victory for Argentina, with the most common selections being nine-zero, seven-two, and eight-one to reverse, respectively (with a range of Justices providing dissents).

Riley v. California

This case on the authority of police to search a cellphone taken from an arrestee presents a close call, at least in the minds of the competing students:  55.3% of teams predict that Riley will win, compared with 44.7% predicting respondent victory for the state.  A five-four split in Riley’s favor was the most common pick for the students, but without a consistent pattern to the  divided Court.

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus

The students are again closely divided over the outcome in this dispute over state regulation of political speech.  52.5% of teams foresee success for SBA List, while 47.5% believe that the state officials will win; an equal number of teams predicted unanimous victories for each side.

Cert. petitions:

Drake v. Jerejian

In this Second Amendment petition, 47.4% of students anticipate a grant, with 44.7% predicting a denial.  5.4% of teams expect the Court to call for the views of the Solicitor General, while 2.6% think the petition will be held.

Galloway v. Mississippi

Students largely expect a denial (54.1% of teams) in this case from the Mississippi Supreme Court involving the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment, with only 32.4% of teams predicting the petition will be granted.  8.1% of teams expect the case to be summarily reversed, while two teams predict a CVSG and a hold, respectively.

Heien v. North Carolina

Look out for a grant in this petition involving the Fourth Amendment, at least if you trust the students.  56.8% of teams predict a grant, with 27% predicting a denial, 8.1% a CVSG, 5.4% a summary reversal, and 2.7% a hold.

James v. United States

Another grant may be on the way for this Confrontation Clause petition, with 54.1% of teams forecasting that outcome and only 32.4% expecting the Court to deny cert.  8.1% of teams predict the case will be held, with single teams taking chances also on predicting a CVSG and a reversal.

Morris v. George

The students largely see this petition on appellate procedures as destined for denial, with 54.1% of teams predicting such a result; by contrast, only 21.6% predict a grant.  13.5% of teams expect the petition to be summarily reversed, 5.4% think it will be held, and 5.4% predict a CVSG.

Simmons v. Sabine River Authority of Louisiana

By a relatively close margin, the students anticipate a denial in this petition on the Federal Power Act, with 45.9% of teams forecasting such an outcome and 35.1% expecting a grant. 10.8% of teams foresee a CVSG, 5.4% predict a hold, one team expecting a summary reversal.

As the Term comes to a close and opinions and orders are announced in the cases listed above, we will be able to evaluate how far the wisdom of the crowds (i.e., law students) can go in predicting what will happen at the Court.  Even in Aereo, the case with the strongest student consensus, almost a third of the teams disagreed with the prevailing view, a testimony to the difficulty of picking case and petition outcomes. That same difficulty is part of what makes such a challenge fun and interesting, and if you have felt encouraged to mark down your own predictions – good luck!

Posted in Everything Else

Recommended Citation: Andrew Hamm, Supreme Court Challenge: Student predictions, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 8, 2014, 1:03 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/04/supreme-court-challenge-student-predictions/