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Friday, May 30, 2014

Are SCOTUS Justices Techno-Luddites?

By:  Timothy P. Flynn

Paul Fletcher, the publisher of Michigan Lawyers Weekly, suggested that Justice Antonin Scalia should rent episodes of the HBO mega-hits, "Game of Thrones" and "Boardwalk Empire".  The purpose of this: to educate Justice Scalia about HBO [referenced in a recent case]; he seemed to misunderstand the pay-to-view business model of the network; he has probably never had cause to purchase the service.

Last year, Chief Justice John Roberts famously inquired about the difference between an e-mail and a pager. Imagine that disconnect.  Remember pagers...?  And imagine life without e-mail or cell phone; there's an upside to that world view.

Then there's Justice Anthony Kennedy who assessed that mission-critical high-end software coding could be accomplished by "any group of computer people sitting around a coffee shop", over a weekend, munching on code; magically producing software by Monday morning, in a commerce-ready format no less.  Also very disconnected.

According to Fletcher, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, despite her minor "netflick - netflix" gaffe during some recent oral arguments, gets the highest marks for being techno savvy.  Her colleagues, on the other hand, were described as "incompetent Luddites" by an unidentified legal blogger that spoke with the Reuters news service.  We here at the Law Blogger agree with Fletcher that such an assessment is overly harsh; probably wasn't anyone from over at SCOTUSBlog.

A simple solution is to have the SCOTUS law clerk corps train the Justices about the basics of wired e-law with a few clutch, but rudimentary devices.  Such things are traditionally delegated in the marble fortress housing the SCOTUS chambers.

At some point, however, reality does finally come crashing in.  Historically, SCOTUS lags behind, relative to the other branches of our government, from a technological perspective where, repeatedly, it receives poor marks.  

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