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September 8, 2006

Ideas for starting a SCOTUS fantasy league?

I am having a down fantasy baseball season, and I pass on fantasy football because I don't want another reason to watch even more football.  So I am feeling a bit fantasy deprived, which leads me to start thinking about developing some kind of (low-key?) fantasy SCOTUS game.

A fantasy SCOTUS league could be structured in many ways; here is one (simple?) approach:

  1. Players draft particular Justices for particular months during the nine-month SCOTUS season (October to June); nine Justices over nine months create 81 possible "justice/month draft choices."
  2. Points are earned for decisions authored by selected Justices during particular months, with bonus points for (a) writing the opinion of the Court, (b) the number of votes an opinion garners, and perhaps (c) the length of the opinion. 

First picks in such a SCOTUS fantasy league would surely be justices for June, when most of the major decisions are issued.  But split decisions are far more likely in June, and giving lots of bonus points to unanimous opinions might lead to earlier picks of earlier justice/months.  Also, though Justices Breyer and Kennedy seem likely to write opinions longer than the Chief, we might predict that the Chief's opinions are likely to garner more votes.

I am driven to this fun distraction because September seems to be the official Supreme Court preview season.  The Cato Institute, for example, is hosting next week this event entitled "The Supreme Court: Past and Prologue."  And, for the SCOTUS equivalent of a fantasy magazine, Peter Rutledge has already posted on SSRN this thoughtful and interesting paper entitled "Looking Ahead: October Term 2006."

So who wants to help me start such a league?  At the very least, I hope some commentors will help me flesh out the point system (or suggest alternative approaches).

September 8, 2006 at 03:44 PM | Permalink


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I'm in! I think there should be a minor league, too-- each of us should get to choose a limited number of Court of Appeals judges, and if they are nominated to SCOTUS during league play, it pays off with lots of bonus points.

Posted by: osler | Sep 8, 2006 10:41:15 PM

I wanna be in, and I'd help with the point system.

Posted by: josh | Sep 10, 2006 4:28:58 PM

Count me in. The point system: writing the opinion obviously should count highly. Voting in the majority for criminal v civil decisions could count next most highly; Something should be done with the fact that there is a consistent liberal / conservative block, as well as dissents; 5-4, 6-3, 7-2, 8-1 and 9-0s should also be scored differently, (per curiam are a wash). A deviation from the normal or expected block vote might also be interesting to score a bit differently.

Posted by: majormori | Sep 11, 2006 5:30:15 PM

A lengthy opinion should count AGAINST the justice. We don't want to be giving these guys any more incentive to write 150 page opinions. Pithiness should be rewarded.

Posted by: DanD | Sep 11, 2006 7:19:40 PM

A couple of years ago someone had one of these on-line. I can't recall who did it, but one of your either readers might know some of the details.

Posted by: | Sep 12, 2006 12:07:09 PM

How about make it simple: Justice X gets 1 point for every Justice that joins an opinion written by Justice X. So, if Thomas writes a dissent joined by Scalia and Alito, that's three points for Thomas.

Posted by: | Sep 21, 2006 8:32:28 PM

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