This is an ongoing issue with the American judiciary system. Judges are by institution isolated and by tradition older than the general population. Increasingly, however, they are called upon to rule on technologies with which they have no experience at all.
It does’t look like we’ll be seeing much Tweeting-from-the-bench on the Supreme Court any time soon, but the Hillicon Valley blog highlights an amusing moment at a recent House Judiciary subcommittee meeting, attended by two Supreme Court Justices — Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer — in which they’re asked if they plan on using Twitter any time soon. Scalia says he doesn’t even know anything about it, and notes that his wife refers to him as “Mr. Clueless.” Reassuring to know that of a Supreme Court Justice. Breyer, however, seems to indicate a realization that Twitter, as a communication platform, really could be quite powerful.
Subcommittee Chair Steve Cohen: Have either of y’all ever consider tweeting or twitting?
Justice Scalia: I don’t even know what it is. To tell you the truth, I have heard it talked about. But, you know, my wife calls me Mr. Clueless — I don’t know about tweeting.
Justice Breyer: Well, I have no personal experience with that. I don’t even know how it works. But, remember when we had that disturbance in Iran? My son said, ‘Go look at this.’ And oh, my goodness. I mean, there were some Twitters, I called them, there were people there with photographs as it went on. And I sat there for two hours absolutely hypnotized. And I thought, ‘My goodness, this is now, for better or for worse, I think maybe for many respects for better, in that instance certainly, it’s not the same world. It’s instant and people react instantly… and there we are. It’s quite a difference there and it’s not something that’s going to go away.