One of the more annoying aspects of the United States Supreme Court is that they operate as if there have been no technological advances in the past 50 years. The level of transparency they offer is unacceptable in a digital world.
To begin with, the court still doesn’t allow cameras. This is a policy decision they made. Their arguments for the decision range from ‘they don’t want clips taken out of context’ to ‘the unwashed masses would be too ignorant to understand what they are see.’ Frankly, I think the real reason they don’t allow cameras is if people really saw how old some of the justices making very important decisions about our country really are, they might start to question some of the aspect of our court system, like lifetime appointments.
The Court technically has no problem providing audio of the oral arguments, but they do so as if this was still the 1980′s when you needed to trade cassette tapes. The Court doesn’t steam the oral arguments over the Internet, something every seven old with an iPhone could set up in about five minutes. The Court doesn’t even post the audio the same day. They normally wait until Friday. This is an absurd delay without any legal or technical justification. All this does is make it difficult for all but a special elite group of accredited organizations to report on the court.
Finally, the court never announces when they will release a decision. So on Mondays and Thursdays journalists wait at the court like puppy dogs to see if they will be thrown a bone. I don’t think decisions should be made under an artificial deadline, but it would make sense to at least announce 12 hours in advance which decision will be handed down. If the Court really wants Americans to better understanding what they do, they would make it easier for news organization to book actual experts on the case to give informed analysis. This is not the 70′s where all news comes from a nightly newscast and a morning paper.
Image by envios under Creative Commons license