Lawyers regularly joke about their supposed inability to address mathematical issues. However, mathematical concepts sometimes are at the core of a legal dispute, and lawyers do a disservice to their clients if they are not able to engage in effective advocacy in these contexts. This article discusses a gerrymandering dispute involving an important mathematical idea – the core statistical concept of regression analysis, particularly multivariable regression analysis – then explaining the underlying math involved and connecting it to the legal issues. The case involved is Gill v. Whitford, in which Chief Justice Roberts referred to the multivariable regression analysis that showed the gerrymandering as “sociological gobbledygook.” This article explains the statistics behind that analysis, connects it to the issues before the Court, and demonstrates that these concepts are employed in many types of litigation. The article concludes that, even facing a skeptical court, lawyers who can understand and explain mathematical concepts in a way that resonates fully with the legal issues will be best positioned to advocate for their clients. With new census results imminent in 2021 and the opportunities for redistricting that will subsequently arise, mathematical understanding in the context of gerrymandering litigation is more critical than ever.
GW Paper Series
Robin L. Juni, When the Math Matters: Improving Statistical Advocacy in Gerrymandering Litigation, 100 Neb. L. Rev. ___ (2022).