For years, I have watched others obsess over their fantasy teams – fantasy football, fantasy baseball, fantasy soccer – on and on and on. I don’t really understand the draw – making up fake teams cobbled together with players from real teams, and then “playing” these fake teams against other fake teams to see whose fake team is the best. A strange pastime, if you ask me, and one that requires time and effort I simply don’t have.
At least for me, it’s hard to get into something that doesn’t have any application or consequences in the real world, unless you have some money riding on it.
That said, I have discovered a fantasy league I can get excited about. Wait for it . . . .
There is a fantasy SCOTUS league! FantastySCOTUS is an online fantasy league created by Josh Blackman, head of the Harlan Institute. It involves enthusiasts of constitutional law predicting how each member of the United States Supreme Court will rule on any given case. In its second season, over 5,000 players have registered with the website. A high school version has been created to help improve education in constitutional law. The Harlan Institute is a nonprofit organization with the mission to “bring a stylized law school experience into the high school classroom to ensure that our next generation of leaders has a proper understanding of our most fundamental laws.” FantasySCOTUS is one of the tools that the institute uses to educate and engage high schoolers on SCOTUS.
How does the league work? Members earn points by correctly predicting how each justice will rule on any given case:
A Justice can either vote to AFFIRM, REVERSE the lower court, or RECUSE from the case and not cast a vote. Users can make predictions at any point before the case is decided, though predictions will be disabled on all days the Supreme Court announces that opinions will be released.
Any law student, however, can tell you that sometimes a justice will vote to affirm in part and reverse in part; in those situations, FantasySCOTUS decides whether the vote was more of an “affirm” or “reverse” vote, and award points accordingly. And, as one would expect from such a league as this, there is a way to appeal the scoring of a particular case, using the “clearly erroneous” standard. Challenges to the rules themselves are reviewed using the “abuse of discretion” standard. Changes are made via blog, and players are charged with constructive notice of such changes.
Sports fans often wear the jerseys of their favorite team or player when they watch sports and update their fantasy teams. I wonder if FantasySCOTUS will start selling Scalia or Sotomayor robes for the sake of authenticity.