The Supreme Court’s next (cautious, careful) move into the digital age

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A new era of cutting-age technology begins Nov 13 at the United States Supreme Court, as the public for the first time will be able to access briefs and other case documents on the court’s website. Unimpressed? Perhaps the reader, in the waning second decade of the 21st century, thinks such an innovation might have been implemented, say, many years ago, as it was for the rest of the federal courts. “The courts will often choose to be late to the harvest of American ingenuity,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote when announcing the online project at the end of 2014. “Courts are simply different in important respects when it comes to adopting technology, including information technology.” The court’s primary responsibility is deciding the cases and controversies that come before it. Everything else—including public transparency—is a distant second. So the court is interested in technology that helps its decision-making, Chief Roberts Roberts explained, and warier of other technology — cameras, same-day audio, etc. — even if it might make the court more accessible to the public.


The Supreme Court’s next (cautious, careful) move into the digital age