- Apr 3, 2001
I was curious how much of a thing judges citing Wikipedia is, and...Adding to what you said...
Texas judge's ruling to ban mifepristone nationwide cites Wikipedia, contains pro-life talking points, and gets basic facts about abortion wrong: Experts say it's 'completely flawed'Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk overturned FDA approval of an abortion medication with a ruling full of inaccuracies, legal and healthcare experts told Insider.www.yahoo.com
As information becomes more readily available, the legal community must question whether bright-line rules regarding Internet citations are even tenable.
According to the Rosenthal court, judicial opinions began invoking Wikipedia references for support over a decade ago, in 2004. Rosenthal, 2017 WL 1041234, at *5 (citing Jodi L. Wilson, Proceed with Extreme Caution: Citation to Wikipedia in Light of Contributor Demographics and Content Policies, 16 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 857, 868 (2014)). However, such citations were scarce and often related to non-dispositive matters or were included in string citations. In Bing Shun Li v. Holder, the Fifth Circuit cautioned against reliance on Wikipedia, agreeing that courts have found it to be an “unreliable source of information” and warning “against any improper reliance on it or similarly unreliable internet sources in the future.” 400 F. App’x 854, 857 (5th Cir. 2010).
Ultimately, the Supreme Court in Rosenthal held that the court of appeals improperly utilized Wikipedia as a primary source “to ascribe a specific, narrow definition to a single term that the court found significantly influenced the article’s gist.” 2017 WL 1041234, at *6 (emphasis added). Indeed, the main problem with the court of appeals’ decision was that it had relied on the Wikipedia definition “as the lynchpin of its analysis on a critical issue” despite the existence of other sources that offered a broader common meaning. Id. Importantly, the Supreme Court’s analysis highlights that citation to Wikipedia is favored as “a starting point for research purposes” or when used sparingly for minor points in judicial opinions. Id. at *5.
<em>Gale</em> Academic OneFile includes The citation of Wikipedia in judicial opinions by Lee F. Peoples. Read the beginning or sign in for the full text.
Wikipedia has been cited in over four hundred American judicial opinions. Courts have taken judicial notice of Wikipedia content, based their reasoning on Wikipedia entries, and decided dispositive motions on the basis of Wikipedia content.