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Legal Language Explorer

Michigan State University School of Law and Emory University School of Law have teamed up with the Computational Legal Studies Blog to host the Legal Language Explorer. This database, especially for law and language enthusiasts, allows users to search and graph the history of phrases used in the decisions of the United States Supreme Court over time. For instance, you could use this tool to view a graphical representation of the Supreme Court’s usage of phrases such as “right to privacy” or “intermediate scrutiny.”

Currently, it will allow users to input phrases of up to 4 words long. However, multiple phrases can be shown on the graph simultaneously. The default search, for example, is “interstate commerce, railroad, deed,” which shows the usage of all three phrases over time. The database contains Supreme Court decisions from 1791 to 2005, but they hope to expand it to include decisions from other courts such as the U.S. Courts of Appeals.

The developers have written a paper about the database and created a helpful tutorial.

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