Why approximately ten words? Well in reality it is in ten n-grams or phrases of one to a few words. The words not only provide a pithy synopsis of each case, but they also give the parties’ framings of the cases. I used a method known as keyword extraction to locate these phrases (more about the complex algorithm that goes into this method is available here). The parties’ main merits brief from each case in the 2015 Supreme Court Term provide the raw material for the analyses. The ten phrases for both parties in a case (I used the named parties in joined cases or dockets) show the parties different perspectives and well as foci in their briefs.
If you are interested in talking about Supreme Court cases around the coffee table these phrases provide a great way to get started. You can also test your (or someone else’s) knowledge of the various cases with these keywords. If you would like to learn more about a case, good ways to get started are by going to SCOTUSBlog’s overview of each term’s merit cases or by going to the Question Presented section in the individual case dockets (see this example in United States v. Fisher).
The keywords can be found below (The keywords in the left column are from the petitioner/appellant and those in the right column are from the respondent/appellee).