The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


Congratulations to Brady Kelly, the Chief Justice of FantasySCOTUS OT 2022


The October 2022 Term of FantasySCOTUS has come to a close. This term was one a bit of a letdown after last term, but still packed some punch. And FantasySCOTUS did quite well. In the aggregate, our crowd predicted 75% of the cases accurately, down from 81% last term.

This year, the Chief Justice of the league was Brady Kelly. Players receive ten points for each correct prediction of a Justice's vote. We recorded 56 merits cases (DIGs do not count). A perfect score would have been 5,600 points. Brady scored 4,650 points. Bill Corteal, who was the champion last year, was the runner-up with 4,250 points.

Brady lives in the District of Columbia and works in analytics consulting, but not in politics, government, or law. In fact he has no legal training or background whatsoever. Brady tells me that he enjoys problem-solving, whatever the context.

Brady's first exposure to Supreme Court cases was reading ones with a direct impact on his life—especially United States v. Windsor (2013). From there he developed an interest in appellate law and the Supreme Court. Brady first begin to predict case outcomes after hearing about FantasySCOTUS in 2015. But, he explains, after predicting a few cases, life got in the way, and he took a pause. The October 2022 term was his first time reading more than a handful of the cases in a given year, and he really enjoyed the process and the competition.

I asked Brady how he goes about predicting cases. He said the first thing he always does is read the decision below. And if he still doesn't fully understand the issues, he reads the petitioner and respondent briefs too. From there, he really tries to focus on what he personally thinks the right interpretation of the law is, focusing squarely on the text and on precedent. Brady admitted that he is certainly not qualified to have an opinion on these questions, but finds it most helpful to start there rather than as an outside observer just predicting what other people will think. Brady acknowledged that he does not always expect his interpretation to be the majority opinion, just that he finds it a helpful framework to start with. Only then does he try to predict which justices he'll end up agreeing vs. disagreeing with. Once he has formed a tentative opinion, he'll listen to the oral arguments and change predicted votes around as needed.

I asked Brady what case gave him the most difficulty. He responded, Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County v. Talevski. He felt pretty confident in predicting a 7-2 majority that FNHRA could theoretically be enforced through section 1983, but there were still multiple layers of questions after that point. Brady missed this case, when other top players got it right. Brady explained that he missed the implicit-preclusion path question. Brady told me that having so many separate questions, each of which could change the case's outcome, was stressful.

Another challenging case for Brady was Jones v Hendrix. On that one, his predictions were right. But Brady said  it was very difficult—as a certified non-lawyer—to try to understand federal Habeas Corpus law. He is still not sure he understands it. (Join the club).

Brady really enjoys listening to the oral arguments on Oyez, especially when someone just hits it out of the park. He told me he personally thought the best two examples this term were Solicitor General Prelogar in Groff v. DeJoy and Colleen Roh Sinzdak in Amgen v. Sanofi.

Brady also has a favorite writer: Justice Kagan, with Justice Barrett in second place, even though he might not agree with Barrett as often as he agrees with Kagan. If the two of them are on the same side (e.g. the dissent in Mallory, the dissent in Bittner, or the concurrence-in-judgment in Abitron Austria), he is guaranteed to end up agreeing with them.

Congratulations Brady, and to all the participants in the competition. We will launch next term's competition on the first Monday in October.