Thursday, March 18, 2004

Supreme Court information

Via Howard Bashman, an interesting article about the testimony of Justices Thomas and Kennedy before a congressional budget committee: :
A cordial hearing about the Supreme Court budget grew testy when lawmakers pointed to the vast amount of information they provide about Congress' doings and said the nation's highest court could and should do the same.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy protested that the court is making more information about cases available through its Web site, but Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., seemed unimpressed.

'I think the court is a little bit aloof,' he said.

Kennedy and Justice Clarence Thomas seemed taken aback, and hurriedly listed ways the court tries to tell the public what it is up to.
The court makes available a transcript of its oral arguments about a week after it hears oral arguments in a case, Kennedy noted.

Congress does that overnight, Wolf replied.

Some of the legal briefs for the court's cases are available online, Kennedy said.

Not everyone has a computer, Wolf answered. He sends his constituents a letter detailing his votes.
Well, that settles it, then. Clearly the Supreme Court has been negligent in failing to send out paper copies of briefs and opinions to all of its constituents (which would have to be all Americans). There are about 8,000 cert. petitions filed per year (with at least two briefs apiece), 80 or so cases on the merits (I'd guess an average of 5 briefs apiece, including the petitioner, respondent, and any amici), plus the opinions themselves, all of which should be mailed to 280 million Americans. That would amount to a mere 4.6 trillion mailings per year. Why, Justice Stevens' clerks could handle that in their spare time.


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