During the months when the SC is out of session, the justices tend to tour the country often popping up in small corners of the country to make appearances, give speeches, and enjoy their own summer vacations. Justice Thomas has been known to road trip across the country in an RV with his wife Ginni. Justice Scalia and Ginsburg have traveled together for years. Recently he swapped her for another liberal, petite female justice (Kagan) and went hunting. It’s often during these summer months and out-of-the-Beltway trips that we get relaxed, less tight-lipped versions of the justices who reveal more than perhaps they realize about the elusive Supreme Court.
Take, for instance, the big reveal about the tech-deficient justices as told by Justice Kagan. She revealed herself as one of the few justices who regularly checks and uses email. Describing the justices as “not necessarily the most technologically sophisticated people,” she recounted the modes of communication inside the Court have not changed much since she was a clerk in 1987.
Memos are still issued on ivory paper and circulated to the justices – old school. But then everything about the SC is pretty old school, so this news should surprise no one.
In an appearance in Providence, Rhode Island, Justice Kagan said several of the justices never played a video game but were expected to issue a ruling about them in the Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association (2011) case which challenged whether first amendment protections included violent video games. Not exactly “gamers,” the justices allegedly got to hone their skills on Resident Evil 4 in order to make an informed decision.
The final insight came just yesterday in Adam Liptak’s article for the New York Times. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the current court “one of the most activist in a long time,” citing the Voting Rights Act case (Shelby County v. Holder) as an example. Ginsburg assured Liptak she’s not leaving the SC any time soon and that the identity of the president is not a factor in her decision to leave, should she elect to retire in the future.
The summer isn’t over, the next term doesn’t start until October, and there’s still plenty of time to hopefully learn more about the justices and the Court.