Looking at Legal Trends with Google Labs Books Ngram Viewer

Lately, I’ve been playing around with the Books Ngram Viewer from Google Labs. This experimental site displays how often searched phrases appear in publications scanned by the Google Books project over time.

For example, open government really jumped in the 1970s.

And, as you may have deduced, it correlates with the rise and fall of Nixon.

Civil rights, as we can see, is really a child of the 60s.

The Books Ngram Viewer even allows users to chart the relative frequency of different phrases against each other. Here, I plotted Jim Crow, affirmative action and desegregation. The graph illustrates the rise of affirmative action once the push for desegregation peaked in the late 1960s.

The Books Ngram Viewer also shows that the living Constitution is not a dead idea:

Finally, look at this graph that plots the various constitutional amendments, including the First Amendment (Religion and Expression), Second Amendment (Right to Bear Arms), Fourth Amendment (Search and Seizure), Fifth Amendment (Self-Incrimination/Miranda Warning), Sixth Amendment (Rights of Accused), and the Fourteenth Amendment (Due Process/Equal Protection).