The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
At the end of this term, Kathleen Arberg will retire as the Supreme Court's Public Information Officer. She has been in that position for nearly four decades. Marcia Coyle interviewed Arberg for the Supreme Court Insider newsletter. It is a fun piece. Arberg offers some fascinating insights into how the PIO has evolved over the decades. However, there was one disquieting tidbit:
In the past year, we've clipped approximately 10,000 news articles related to the court and the justices, roughly half of them tweets, just one indication of the growth in variety and breadth of coverage.
I am horrified to think there are 5,000 tweets worth clipping for the Justices. Most of Twitter is an absolute cesspool of hot takes and visceral reactions. These fleeting ephemera should be forgotten as soon as they are released--not clipped for Supreme Court Justices.
But on a deeper level, I am troubled by the notion that the Justices need tweets and articles about them clipped. The media is overly hostile to conservative jurisprudence. Advocates posing as journalists routinely try to shame the Court to eschew conservative results. The Justices should be impervious to this pressure. But no. Many of the Justices are desirous of public approval, and feed on mainstream media accolades. And the PIO proactively feeds this habit. The so-called Greenhouse Effect is exacerbated within the Court.
If this post is ultimately clipped by PIO, I hope every Justice deletes it. What I say, and what others say, should not matter to how justice is dispensed.