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Supreme Court Justices Are Like Your Parents

Not because they judge, because they don’t know how to use technology

Adam Chandler
August 20, 2013
Facebook for Dummies.(Wiley Publishing)
Facebook for Dummies.(Wiley Publishing)

How does the justices of the nation’s highest court, who preside over America’s intricate 21st century legal cases, manage technology and their interactions with one another?

Turns out, they don’t. In a speech in Rhode Island today, Elena Kagan, the court’s youngest sitting member, explained that SCOTUS eschews email, still relying on old school paper memos to get their work done.

In an appearance in Providence on Tuesday, Kagan acknowledged the justices have a ways to go to understand technologies such as Facebook, Twitter and even email.

She says emerging technologies pose a challenge for the court, and it can be difficult to understand whether a decision makes sense given the technology involved. She says the justices are often helped by younger clerks.

Meanwhile, memos are still printed out and brought around the offices by quaint-seeming officials known as chamber aides.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.