Ed Lee: Predicting the Winners

Judge Richard Posner and Professors Lee Epstein and William Landes have analyzed a simple—yet statistically significant—method of identifying the likely winner of a Supreme Court case based on the number of questions the lawyers receive during oral argument. In a nutshell, the party that receives the most questions from the Justices during oral argument is more likely to lose. See Lee Epstein, William M. Landes, & Richard A. Posner, Inferring the Winning Party in the Supreme Court from the Pattern of Questioning at Oral Argument, 39 J. Legal Stud. 433 (2010); Johnson, Timothy R., Ryan Black, Jerry Goldman, and Sarah Treul, Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Do Justices Tip their Hands with Questions at Oral Argument in the U.S. Supreme Court?, 29 Wash. Univ. J. of L. & Policy.  241-261 #X (Spring 2009).  Below, Professor Edward Lee applies this method to cases from the Supreme Court’s 2014 October Term.

An asterisk (*) indicates close cases that could resolve either way.
Blue boxes indicate a correct prediction, gray an incorrect prediction.

Percentage Correct: 63% (42 of 67 cases decided)

Session Beginning October 6, 2014

Date Argued Case Lee Prediction
10/6/14 Heien v. North Carolina North Carolina*
10/7/14 Holt v. Hobbs Holt
10/7/14 Dart Cherokee Basin v. Owens Dart Cherokee*
10/8/14 Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk Integrity Staffing Solutions
10/8/14 Warger v. Shauers Shauers
10/14/14 Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado SG (supporting neither party)
10/14/14 North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC FTC
10/15/14 Teva Pharmaceuticals v. Sandoz Teva*
10/15/14 Jennings v. Stephens Stephens

Session Beginning November 3, 2014

Date Argued Case Lee Prediction
11/3/14 Zivotofsky v. Kerry SG (Respondent)*
11/3/14 Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers Dist. Council Laborers Dist. Council*
11/4/14 Dep’t of Homeland Security v. MacLean SG (Petitioner)*
11/4/14 Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans Jesinoski
11/5/14 Yates v. United States SG (Respondent)*
11/10/14 T-Mobile South v. City of Roswell T-Mobile South*
11/10/14 M&G Polymers USA v. Tackett Tacket
11/12/14 Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama Alabama*
11/12/14 Comptroller of the Maryland Treasury v. Wynne Wynne*

Session Beginning December 1, 2014

Date Argued Case Lee Prediction
12/1/14 Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Ass’n Mortgage Bankers Ass’n
12/1/14 Elonis v. United States Elonis*
12/2/14 B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc. B&B Hardware
12/2/14 Whitfield v. United States SG (Respondent)*
12/3/14 Young v. UPS UPS*
12/3/14 Hana Financial v. Hana Bank Hana Bank
12/8/14 Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl Direct Marketing Ass’n
12/8/14 Department of Transportation v. Association of American Railroads Association of American Railroads
12/9/14 Gelboim v. Bank of America Corporation Bank of America
12/9/14 Alabama Department of Revenue v. CSX Transportation CSX*
12/10/14 United States v. Wong Wong
12/10/14 United States v. June June

Session Beginning January 12, 2015

Date Argued Case Lee Prediction
1/12/15 Reed v. Town of Gilbert Reed*
1/12/15 Oneok v. Learjet Learjet
1/13/15 Mach Mining v. EEOC Mach Mining*
1/13/15 Kellogg Brown & Root v. Carter Kellogg Brown
1/14/15 Mellouli v. Lynch Mellouli*
1/14/15 Wellness International Network, Limited v. Sharif Wellness International*
1/20/15 Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center Armstrong*
1/20/15 Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar Williams-Yulee*
1/21/15 Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project Inclusive Communities Project*
1/21/15 Rodriguez v. United States SG (Respondent)

Session Beginning February 23, 2015

Date Argued Case Lee Prediction
2/23/15 Kerry v. Din SG (Petitioner)*
2/23/15 Coleman v. Tollefson Michigan SG (Respondent)*
2/24/15 Henderson v. United States Henderson
2/24/15 Tibble v. Edison International Tibble*
2/25/15 EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc. SG (Petitioner)
2/25/15 Baker Botts v. ASARCO ASARCO
3/2/15 AZ State Legislature v. AZ Indep. Redistricting AZ Legislature*
3/2/15 Ohio v. Clark Clark*
3/3/15 Los Angeles v. Patel Los Angeles
3/3/15 Davis v. Ayala Ayala
3/4/15 King v. Burwell King*

Session Beginning March 23, 2015

Date Argued Case Lee Prediction
3/23/15 Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans Sons of Confederate Vets*
3/23/15 San Francisco v. Sheehan San Francisco*
3/24/15 Bank of America v. Caulkett; Bank of America v. Toledo-Cardona (consolidated) Respondents*
3/25/15 Michigan v. EPA; UARG v. EPA; National Mining Assn. v. EPA (consolidated) Petitioners
3/30/15 Brumfield v. Cain Cain
3/31/15 Commil USA v. Cisco Systems Cisco
3/31/15 Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises Marvel
4/1/15 Harris v. Viegelahn Viegelahn
4/1/15 Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank Blue Hills

Session Beginning April 20, 2015

Date Argued Case Lee Prediction
4/20/15 Johnson v. United States (reargued) Johnson (first arg.); SG (Respondent)* (second arg.)
4/21/15 McFadden v. United States McFadden
4/22/15 Horne v. Dept. of Agriculture Horne*
4/27/15 Kingsley v. Hendrickson Hendrickson*
4/28/15 Obergefell v. Hodges; Tanco v. Haslam; Deboer v. Snyder; Bourke v. Beshear (consolidated) Petitioners
4/29/15 Glossip v. Gross Gross*
4/29/15 Mata v. Lynch (formerly Mata v. Holder) Mata*