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Visualizing the First Amendment

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Visualizing the First Amendment

  1. 1. Visualizing the First Amendment Debbie Rabina & Chris Sula Pratt SILS, ASIST Speakeasy series April 8, 2013
  2. 2. • “Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion, or Prohibiting the Free Exercise Thereof; or Abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press; or the Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble, and To Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.”
  3. 3. First Amendment scholarship • One of the most studied area of constitutional law • Legal studies are traditionally based on detailed qualitative analysis of legislation and case law
  4. 4. Our project • Applies empirical methods and visualization techniques to gain new insights of trends and patterns regarding 1st Amd. ruling by the Supreme Court • Project goals – Provide a visual history of the First Amendment – Assess the impact of these events on the freedoms protected by the First Amendment.
  5. 5. Questions • Once done, we will be able to answer question like: – Which of the 1st Amd. rights were addressed in a particular case – How did a particular Justice vote – What was the ‘test” (justification) for the ruling
  6. 6. Patterns • With the hope of being able to reveal patterns such as: • Do judges vote along party lines • Do Justices change their views over time
  7. 7. Phases • • • • Collecting and analyzing data conducting analysis presenting results in a visual graphic interface publishing research study
  8. 8. Data collection • Case law from the First Amendment Center timeline • Identify variables: – Right asserted/denied – Votes by court – Writer of majority/minority opinions – Chief Justice/nominating president – Legal provision – Number of subsequent citation the case received
  9. 9. Data sources • First Amendment Center timeline – 103 cases with narrative descriptions • Supreme Court Database – maintained by Washington University, St. Louis – 8,407 cases coded with nearly 40 variables – 655 classified as First Amendment cases • Supreme Court Citation Network Data – James H. Fowler (UCSD) and Sangick Jeon (Stanford) – 202,167 citations to/from majority opinions
  10. 10. Data sources coverage First Amendment Center Timeline Supreme Court Database Supreme Court Citation Network Data 1754 1800 1900 1946 2000

Editor's Notes

  • WelcomeThank you ASISTA project very much in it’s infancyWe welcome feedback and comments
  • Without a doubt a highly studies area of constitutional lawMore like literary studies
  • empirical legal research as “research that involves the systematic collection of information (“data”) and its analysis according to some generally accepted method” and includes the coding or tagging of units of text that can, but do not necessarily have to be, numeric in nature (Cane and Kritzer 2010, 4)
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