The Supreme Court’s Confused Empirical Jurisprudence

The Supreme Court’s Confused Empirical Jurisprudence

The Supreme Court’s June 29 ruling in Glossip v. Gross—which applied a ‘‘clearly erroneous’’ standard of review in a decision about lethal injections—is a stark reminder that the Justices have ‘‘little understanding of science and make no effort to connect relevant scientific premises to their constitutional decisions,’’ Professor David L. Faigman says.

If constitutional decisions rest on scientific bases, as more and more of them do, it is ‘‘incumbent on the Justices to be well versed in the rigors of experimental or statistical technique,’’ the author says.


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Welcome to our blog! Here, you can find updates on the latest issues revolving around science and law. The struggle for U.S. court systems to integrate quality science into the law has been long. The struggle still continues. Scientists fundamentally study phenomenon on a generalized scale, trying to extrapolate individual data into predictive and useful theories. Yet the legal system demands the opposite inference: how can a general theory be applied to individual case? How can a generalized risk for leukemia be applied to a factory worker who is exposed to benzene?