Text Re-Use in Scott Walker's Abortion Bill

Eugenia Giraudy, Matt Burgess, Julian Katz-Samuels, and I wrote another blog post for Data Science for Social Good. It starts:

On Monday, Wisconsin governor and 2016 presidential candidate Scott Walker signed into law a bill banning non-emergency abortions past the 19th week of pregnancy. Unsurprisingly, Walker’s move garnered support from one side, derision from the other, and media attention from both. However, journalists face a big hurdle when trying to provide context for a story such as this: it is time-consuming to figure out how many states have introduced similar legislation and where it originated.

Automated detection of copied legislation can help. Data Science for Social Good fellows Matt Burgess, Eugenia Giraudy, and Julian Katz-Samuels, technical mentor Joe Walsh, and project manager Lauren Haynes are working with the Sunlight Foundation to make it easier to find re-used text. Using Sunlight’s corpus of state legislation, our computational tools uncover textual similarities.

Read more here.

Finding Legislative Plagiarism

Eugenia Giraudy and I wrote a blog post introducing our Data Science for Social Good project:

In 2005, Florida implemented a new “Stand Your Ground” law, which legally protected the use of deadly force in self-defense. The law, which removes the “duty to retreat” when a person is threatened with serious bodily harm, gained national attention after George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin in 2012.

Soon after its passage in Florida, Stand Your Ground laws went “viral,” spreading to other parts of the country. Currently, at least two dozen states have implemented a version of Florida’s legislation. These laws didn’t arise in response to broad, spontaneous popular demand. Interest groups, in particular the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), drafted a model bill to ease passage across the country. Ten states have passed nearly identical bills to the ones Florida used and ALEC promoted.

Read more here.