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Sam Heldman


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Tuesday, November 12, 2002
He's at it again

Sean Carter, the originator of the Fantasy Supreme Court League, has come up with a new Supreme Court-based contest. This time, it's the Most Valuable Justice Contest. This contest is fascinating. Each participant chooses a Justice and is awarded points based on that Justice's participation in and opinions in cases that are handed down. The points are awarded as follows:

    Winning Votes

    2 points for being on the majority side of the case

    1 additional point for casting a tie-breaker vote (i.e., the case is decided 5-4)


    2 points for authoring an opinion in a case

    1 additional point for authoring a "maverick opinion" (the opinion of the sole dissenter)

    2 additional points for authoring the court's lead opinion


    However, a justice loses 3 points for not participating in a particular case.

    Bonus Points

    Points (and penalties) will be doubled for each bonus case.

Note that there is no special bonus for authoring the "narrowing concurrence," (the fifth vote that narrows the holding of the 4-Justice plurality) probably because such a bonus could be characterized as the "O'Connor multiplier."

Participants can change their Justice as often as they wish, with the change being effective the following Monday. At the end of the term, the person with the highest total will win $500.

Unlike the Fantasy Supreme Court League, which I described as "too silly to take seriously," this could be really interesting. Among the things that would have to go into the calculation: 1) What cases are likely to come down in a given week; 2) Who is likely to be in the majority; 3) Who is likely to author a case; 4) Which Justices have authored cases from particular conferences; 5) Who is likely to dissent, especially the "lone dissenter" (the "Stevens Bonus").

As a matter of full disclosure, I should mention that Sean Carter offered to send me a free copy of his book as thanks for the first mention of his site on this blog, but I haven't gotten the book yet. Also, this paragraph is not intended to guilt him into sending the book.