During an event at Roger Williams University School of Law in Rhode Island on Tuesday, Justice Kagan had some interesting things to say about the Court’s grasp of modern technology, The Guardian reports.
When Justice Kagan — the youngest of the current justices at age 53 — worked for the Supreme Court as a law clerk for Thurgood Marshall in 1987, the justices did not use email. In 2013, they still don’t. Kagan explained that instead, the justices prefer to give each other handwritten notes, presumably delivered by their clerks (Clerks to Supreme Court justices who go on to work for law firms immediately following their clerkships are now entitled to bonuses of up to $300,000. Being a note delivery service — in addition to all of the other work clerks do for their judges — sounds like a fair trade, but I digress).
While the Court isn’t too invested in email, it looks like some justices are hiding PlayStations behind their robes.
In 2011, the Supreme Court struck down a California law that regulated the sale of violent video games. To prepare for this case, Justice Samuel Alito, a Bush appointee, did considerable research on these games — by playing them. He explained that the violence was “astounding,” both in terms of “the number of victims killed,” and “the technique employed.”
Although Scalia did not support regulating violent games, when referencing Alito’s descriptions, Scalia wrote, “Justice Alito recounts all these disgusting video games in order to disgust us.” Scalia went on to explaine that it is more “cultured and intellectually edifying” to read Dante than to play Mortal Kombat. What about playing Dante in the Mortal Kombat?
While the Supreme Court may have a less personal relationship with modern technology than most of us, hopefully they will get more up to date with their understandings soon. I expect to see at least a few big rulings on electronic privacy issues in the next few years, and it would be great if the Justices had a full grasp of how those issues affect people in the US who use email, which includes pretty much everyone besides them.