Among those projects well-suited for a discussion of network analysis is case law. With Congress’ recent push to repeal and replace various parts of the United States Code (USC), we are delving back into our legal analyses, but this time with a different goal. Our initial efforts were aimed at documenting the temporal and spatial dynamics of case law within the US, but we are now looking at each of the various components of the USC to see how they have been used in conjunction with one another.

One example of this can be seen in the case law for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). For this network, each case is linked to other cases that cite it, providing those data needed to assess which cases have been most influential (most cited), and which are most important in the network (PageRank).

Preliminary network analysis of case law associated with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act

Network analyses can aid in illustrating how legal challenges are linked (in this example, by cases that cite NAGPRA litigation), and provide a measure of influence and importance. This helps to identify noteworthy cases and precedents that may impact our work in the future.