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U.S. Supreme Court

Justices send each other paper memos, not email messages, Kagan says

Posted Aug 20, 2013 2:12 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was asked at an appearance Tuesday whether the justices email each other, she responded that they send each other paper memos—just like they did when she was a Supreme Court clerk in 1987.

"The justices are not necessarily the most technologically sophisticated people," Kagan said, while stating that she herself uses email and reads blogs, and that Supreme Court clerks email each other, the Associated Press reported.

The justices do make an effort to understand technology when it comes up in a case, Kagan says: During her first year on the court, when a case about violent video games was being heard, some justices tried out video games themselves. "It was kind of hilarious."

Kagan also said at the event at Rhode Island’s Trinity Repertory Co. in Providence—which according to a news release focused on how Rhode Island’s 1663 Colonial Charter shaped American jurisprudence—that thanks to advancing technology, courts will increasingly wrestle with the question of unreasonable searches, the Providence Journal reports.

Kagan highlighted Louis Brandeis' dissent in Olmstead v. United States. In the 1928 case, which found that federal wiretaps obtained without judicial approval did not violate defendants’ constitutional rights, Brandeis wrote that technology would allow the government to invade people’s privacy in slight ways.

“Boy, did he get that right,” Kagan said. The event was sponsored by Roger Williams University School of Law.

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