Murphy v. NCAA: Betting on the Crowd

Posted on Posted in GJ Open, Uncategorized

Opinion

by Ryan Adler

Ryan Adler is a Superforecaster and Senior Consultant for Good Judgment who specializes in legal analysis for Good Judgment’s question writing team. He also administers the SCOTUS Challenge on Good Judgment Open, a collaboration between SCOTUSblog and Good Judgment that facilitates probabilistic thinking about court decisions. Ryan can be reached at adler@goodjudgment.com.

Much to the delight of SCOTUS enthusiasts, Monday provided us with a decision in Murphy v. NCAA.  The ruling, while widely and inaccurately reported to legalize gambling in the United States, was a resounding win for federalists and states rights advocates.  But how did our forecasters at Good Judgment Open perform?  How wise was this crowd?  To be honest, pretty wise.  Since the question opened on December 8th (oral arguments were held earlier that week), we logged 300 forecasts from 230 forecasters.  While the question forecast had a bit of volatility in the first month, GJO forecasters held a tight range of a 75% to 80% chance that the Supreme Court would rule that Congress couldn’t prevent New Jersey from repealing its own state prohibitions on sports gambling.  I would put this as a win for the crowd, perhaps showing that we can accurately predict the odds of a Supreme Court decision.  

The wisdom of the crowd forecast on Good Judgment Open for the following question: In Murphy v. NCAA, will the Supreme Court rule that Congress cannot prohibit New Jersey from amending or repealing its existing prohibitions on sports gambling?
The wisdom of the crowd forecast on Good Judgment Open for the following question: In Murphy v. NCAA, will the Supreme Court rule that Congress cannot prohibit New Jersey from amending or repealing its existing prohibitions on sports gambling?

That all stated, if I had to run this question over again, I would add bins (Good Judgment’s term for the answer options) asking for the vote count.  While I was pretty confident on the five usual suspects (if anybody who is far better at photoshop than me would like to take a stab at adding Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kennedy to the movie poster, my hat is off to you), seeing both Kagan and Breyer push back on Congressional “commandeering” was a bit of a surprise to this Court watcher at first blush.  However, it made good sense. Lest we forget the oft overlooked piece of NFIB v. Sebelius, which saw Kagan and Breyer there join the conservative wing of the bench in stopping mandatory Medicaid expansion from being imposed on the states.  I wonder how our crowd would do with a question asking if the Court would rule as it did with more than five Justices in the majority. It’ll be something under consideration for the 2018 term, so stay tuned!

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