Hiding the Ball
posted by David Orentlicher
SCOTUSblog reported that 70,000 people were logged onto its live blog yesterday morning as the Supreme Court announced its decisions. Most were likely watching to see if the Affordable Care Act opinions would come down. That’s a lot of unproductive time that could easily have been avoided if the Court had released a list of decisions in advance, say by 5 pm on Wednesday, or even by 9 am yesterday.
Of course, the Court hides the ball in other ways, such as by forbidding live broadcasts when it hears oral arguments and issues its decisions or when it writes per curiam opinions. The justices might learn from the practices of their lower court colleagues. For example, when I clerked for Judge Alvin Rubin on the 5th Circuit, he would compose a list of questions that the clerk’s office then sent to counsel so they could better prepare for oral argument and give their best shot at responding to Rubin’s concerns.
The public would be well served if the Supreme Court brought more transparency to its activities.