The Use and Abuse of Linguistics at the US Supreme Court

Check again later for room assignments.

Legal reasoning in the U.S. in recent years has taken a linguistic turn, with heavy and increasing use of linguistic reasoning and dictionaries in courts from the Supreme Court on down; this is largely due to the increased prominence of originalism as a guiding legal philosophy. But these tools must be used with care, and the practitioners of these techniques are apt to reach erroneous conclusions. We show that more accurate use of large-scale data-mining techniques such as the Google n-gram corpus leads to conclusions in conflict with the decisions the courts have handed down.