Network Analysis and the Law — 3D-Hi-Def Visualization of the Time Evolving Citation Network of the United States Supreme Court

What are some of the key takeaway points?

(1) The Supreme Court’s increasing reliance upon its own decisions over the 1800-1830 window.

(2) The important role of maritime/admiralty law in the early years of the Supreme Court’s citation network. At least with respect to the Supreme Court’s citation network, these maritime decisions are the root of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence.

(3) The increasing centrality of decisions such as Marbury v. Madison, Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee to the overall network.

The Development of Structure in the SCOTUS Citation Network

The visualization offered above is the largest weakly connected component of the citation network of the United States Supreme Court (1800-1829). Each time slice visualizes the aggregate network as of the year in question.

In our paper entitled Distance Measures for Dynamic Citation Networks, we offer some thoughts on the early SCOTUS citation network. In reviewing the visual above note ….“[T]he Court’s early citation practices indicate a general absence of references to its own prior decisions. While the court did invoke well-established legal concepts, those concepts were often originally developed in alternative domains or jurisdictions. At some level, the lack of self-reference and corresponding reliance upon external sources is not terribly surprising. Namely, there often did not exist a set of established Supreme Court precedents for the class of disputes which reached the high court. Thus, it was necessary for the jurisprudence of the United States Supreme Court, seen through the prism of its case-to-case citation network, to transition through a loading phase. During this loading phase, the largest weakly connected component of the graph generally lacked any meaningful clustering. However, this sparsely connected graph would soon give way, and by the early 1820’s, the largest weakly connected component displayed detectable structure.”

What are the elements of the network?

What are the labels?

To help orient the end-user, the visualization highlights several important decisions of the United States Supreme Court offered within the relevant time period:

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) we labeled as ”Marbury”
Murray v. The Charming Betsey, 6 U.S. 64 (1804) we labeled as “Charming Betsey” Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee, 14 U.S. 304 (1816) we labeled as “Martin’s Lessee”
The Anna Maria, 15 U.S. 327 (1817) we labeled as “Anna Maria”
McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819) we labeled as “McCulloch”

Why do cases not always enter the visualization when they are decided?

As we are interested in the core set of cases, we are only visualizing the largest weakly connected component of the United States Supreme Court citation network. Cases are not added until they are linked to the LWCC. For example, Marbury v. Madison is not added to the visualization until a few years after it is decided.

How do I best view the visualization?

Given this is a high-definition video, it may take few seconds to load. We believe that it is worth the wait. In our view, the video is best consumed (1) Full Screen (2) HD On (3) Scaling Off.

Where can I find related papers?

Here is a non-exhaustive list of related scholarship:

Daniel Martin Katz, Network Analysis Reveals the Structural Position of Foreign Law in the Early Jurisprudence of the United States Supreme Court (Working Paper – 2014)

Yonatan Lupu & James H. Fowler, Strategic Citations to Precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court, 42 Journal of Legal Studies 151 (2013)

Michael Bommarito, Daniel Martin Katz, Jon Zelner & James Fowler, Distance Measures for Dynamic Citation Networks, 389 Physica A  4201 (2010).

Michael Bommarito, Daniel Martin Katz & Jon Zelner, Law as a Seamless Web? Comparison of Various Network Representations of the United States Supreme Court Corpus (1791-2005) in Proceedings of the 12th Intl. Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law (2009).

Frank Cross, Thomas Smith & Antonio Tomarchio, The Reagan Revolution in the Network of Law, 57 Emory L. J. 1227 (2008).

James Fowler & Sangick Jeon, The Authority of Supreme Court Precedent, 30 Soc. Networks 16 (2008).

Elizabeth Leicht, Gavin Clarkson, Kerby Shedden & Mark Newman, Large-Scale Structure of Time Evolving Citation Networks, 59 European Physics Journal B 75 (2007).

Thomas Smith, The Web of the Law, 44 San Diego L.R. 309 (2007).

James Fowler, Timothy R. Johnson, James F. Spriggs II, Sangick Jeon & Paul J. Wahlbeck, Network Analysis and the Law: Measuring the Legal Importance of Precedents at the U.S. Supreme Court, 15 Political Analysis, 324 (2007).

Patrick Ellis – MSU Law 3L (law + entrepreneurship + tech + process + creativity)

ellisAs discussed in a prior post, I will be featuring some of my students who are participating in my law, technology and/or entrepreneurship courses here at MSU Law (access the course list here) — Many of my students are doing interesting and exciting things and so I thought I would take some time to highlight them! For more information about these students or my courses – please feel free to contact me –

Pat Ellis is a 3L at Michigan State University College of Law. He notes “I am especially interested in litigation; eDiscovery, information governance, and compliance; legal informatics and data analytics; legal process engineering and project management; startups and social entrepreneurship.”  His course work includes all of these topics.

Pat is an active blogger – check out his blog including his recent posts including Paired Programming . . . for Agile Lawyers?, Three Benefits of Open Source Legal DocsOpen Source TAR . . . FOR FREE!

Pat did a recent interview with MOOTUS Blog as their featured Law Student of the Month. You can check out that interview here.

#ReInventLaw NYC – February 7, 2014 The Great Hall @ Cooper Union Sign Up For Your Free Ticket Today!

You are invited to join us for ReInventLaw NYC — to be held in New York City on February 7, 2014 at the Cooper Union in Manhattan.

This high energy completely *free* event that is open to anyone interested in the future of the law including but not limited to law students, practicing lawyers, technologists, venture capitalists, data scientists, legal hackers, government officials, law professors, legal operations professionals, legal entrepreneurs, etc.

The full list of the 40+ Speakers is now live!

In the meantime, please sign up for a free ticket today by clicking here.  When they are gone, they are gone (and they are almost gone)!

The event follows immediately on the heels of LegalTech NYC (which is a 12,000+ person trade show attended by the leading technologists in the legal industry).  This  will make it easy for LegalTechNYC goers to attend.

We are very excited to be able to secure this location for this event – the Cooper Union Great Hall in Manhattan.  The Great Hall in among the most important venues in American History as it is the site of Abraham Lincoln original abolitionist speech delivered in this very venue – February 27, 1860.

By way of background, we have run previous sold out events in Silicon Valley, London and Dubai.   For recent examples please see here:

Check out some of the videos from prior events here:

You can learn more about the work of the #ReInventLaw lab here:

Sign up for your free ticket today and we will look forward to seeing you Friday February 7, 2014 @9:00am.