“Our Tech-Savvy Supreme Court” (WSJ)

A lot of people have sent me a link today about the Supreme Court having trouble understanding how texting works and distinguishing between pager and e-mail messages. My thoughts:

– I think you kind of have to take the Justices’ ages into consideration here. The youngest Justices are 55, so, at best, it’s like explaining these things to your parents. Yes, one would hope that the Supreme Court would have some knowledge about the issues brought to them, but remember: they can hear cases about anything. It isn’t possible for them to have a deep knowledge of everything they’re hearing. Plus, they’re supposed to be dealing with the legal issues of the case, not necessarily the semantics of whether the message was via text or e-mail.
– What’s wrong with hand-writing your opinions, anyway? It preserves your thoughts in a way a word processor can’t—scratching out text versus outright deleting it—and I’ve always thought it was easier to make lists and format stuff on paper. Doesn’t mean I can’t send an e-mail.
– It’s possible that the Justices were also asking questions in order to limit the scope of the case or to avoid overbreadth. They’ve got a lot of case law to refer back to—it might actually be relevant whether one could print out the text messages, or how they differ from an e-mail. I’m clinging to this one, if for no other reason than I don’t want to believe that SCOTUS really is that technologically inept. :\
– I am, however, still bothered at the legal profession’s resistance to incorporate technology into its processes. That may be one reason why I’m so drawn to IP—that branch deals with technology all the time. So yeah, at first glance this article made me facepalm (just like the writer did.) There are definitely problems with the way the legal profession understands and uses technology (or, you know, doesn’t), and it has a long way to go to catch up to other industries. Basically, as much as I want to believe that SCOTUS wasn’t totally ignorant about the stuff in that case, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they were.

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