Demo: Supreme Court Justices Decision Making

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Infobox (stable demo) edit with form
  • name: Demo: Supreme Court Justices Decision Making

  • description: Information about justices of U.S. Supreme Court
  • keyword(s): justice,decision making
  • creator(s): Xian Li
  • created: 2009/11/23
  • modified: 2010-6-7

live demo here


Facts about this Demonstration

Live Demo(s)
Video Demo(s) Data source(s)
Other Data source(s)
Technology Used
Related SPARQL
Related Demo(s)


This demo integrates basic biographic information about justices of U.S. Supreme Court with their voting records from 1953 to 2008. This demo tries to look into justices' decision preferences from multiple perspectives. A motion chart is used to provide a dynamic view of justices' decision towards certain areas (like crime) over the years, which could be co-explained by social changes over the same period of time.

Technology Highlights

  • The top part of this demo uses MIT Simile Labs Exhibit to make the faceted browsing, including map, timeline, bar chart, table, etc. The data is based on query results from DBpedia and the SCDB dataset (Dataset 10016), which are stored in a JSON file required by the Exhibit framework.
  • The rest of visualization uses the Motion Chart.
    • The data for the motion chart is from two datasets: the Supreme Court Database and Agency Budget, which were converted to RDF and queried by SPARQL. The query results are directly handled by the Google visualization API.

Interesting Observation


As shown in the image above, we present the liberal votes from Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justice John Marshall Harlan II at the same period of the court. At the early stage of John Marshall Harlan’s Supreme Court career, his liberal voting direction in the economic area was in accordance with that of the Chief justice, which could be attributed to the “freshman” phenomena mentioned in previous research, while in his later career, Harlan took a more conservative direction in his decisions.

Video Demo

There is an 4 min video that walks through the highlights of this demo. Supreme Court Video Demo

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