How Likely Is It Antonin Scalia Will Die in the Next Four Years?

The law, lawyers, and the court.
Jan. 14 2013 6:00 AM

The Supreme Court Justice Death Calculator

How likely is it Antonin Scalia will die in the next four years? Two liberals? Find out with this grim calculator.

Add to the Graveyard

Add a Generic Justice

Any Justice

9 remaining

Any Conservative Justice

5 remaining

Any Liberal Justice

4 remaining

Add a Specific Justice

Scalia
Kennedy
Thomas
Alito
Roberts
Ginsburg
Breyer
Sotomayor
Kagan

Graveyard — Click a gravestone to resurrect — Resurrect All

Probability — Based on 10,000 simulations

Odds are at least one Supreme Court Justice will die in the next four years. President Obama surely knows this. And when the American public voted last November, they surely knew it, too.

What are the odds that it will be Justice Scalia? How likely is it that two conservatives will die? Justice Ginsberg? Using publicly available data from the Centers for Disease Control, we can get rough odds for many different scenarios. It's rough because it assumes, to put it briefly, that Clarence Thomas has the life expectancy of the average 62-year-old black man. Which is likely not true. But it is true that with four justices in their 70s—and Ginsburg turning 80 this year—this Supreme Court is one of the oldest in a long time. As the late great statistician John Tukey put it, “without assumptions there can be no conclusions.” So let’s make some assumptions, for the sake of grim fun.

Chris Kirk is Slate's interactives editor. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.