Barrett Leads SCOTUS Nominee Race, Lagoa Contending, Say Betting Markets

Posted on: September 19, 2020, 01:48h. 

Last updated on: September 19, 2020, 04:57h.

Amy Coney Barrett is the front-runner to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). But the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge could be credibly challenged by Barbara Lagoa, among others, according to betting and prediction markets.

Supreme Court
Mourners outside the Supreme Court following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Image: DCist)

Ginsburg, affectionately referred to by admirers and fans as “RBG,” died Friday of complications stemming from metastatic pancreatic cancer. She was 87 and the fourth-oldest serving member of the high court in US history. Nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg was viewed as a trailblazer in the women’s rights movement.

She was the second woman to serve as a SCOTUS justice, following Sandra Day O’Connor, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan. For several years following O’Connor’s 2006 retirement and until President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor in 2009, Ginsburg was the only woman on the bench of the nation’s highest court.

Those historical anecdotes are being reflected in prediction markets. For example, is offering a contract on “The next individual nominated by President Trump to the United States Supreme Court before he leaves office shall be a woman.”

Trade in that issue was essentially non-existent prior to Ginsburg’s death. But activity subsequently vaulted, meaning traders would pay 88 cents, up 11 cents to bet on Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg being a woman. A wager against that or on Trump nominating a man goes for just 14 cents as of midday Saturday.

Betting on Barrett

Barrett, 48, was widely viewed as Trump’s next nominee should the need arise. Following the contentious 2018 appointment of Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh, she was Trump’s second SCOTUS appointment after Neil Gorsuch.

During the Kavanaugh hearings, rumors swirled that Barrett was disappointed that she wasn’t tapped by the President for the job. But White House insiders reportedly told Barrett allies that she was being reserved for the next SCOTUS opening, apparently expressing some confidence that Ginsburg’s ailing health would force her retirement during Trump’s first term.

Betting and prediction markets are indicating momentum for Barrett, with PredictIt pricing a contract on her being Trump’s nominee at 56 cents, nearly double the next-closest offering. As the chart below indicates, Amul Thapar, judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, is the only man among the top five markets on PredictIt.

PredictIt Judges
Prediction markets are pricing in President Trump nominating a woman to fill a new Supreme Court vacancy. (Image:

Searching for Value

Overseas gamblers and Americans trading on PredictIt looking for value in SCOTUS bets may be forced to confine their lists to Lagoa and Thapar.

Lagoa, currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, checks some crucial electoral boxes. Not only is she a woman, she’s Cuban-American and hails from Florida, a state pivotal to Trump’s reelection hopes. Reports surfaced Saturday that Lagoa, though it’s not yet reflected on PredictIt, is gaining momentum for the nomination where it matters most, in the White House.

Regarding Thapar, the pick could be safe, because unlike Trump’s first two SCOTUS nominees, the judge isn’t white and he’s from Kentucky, the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.