During oral argument on a case involving privacy rights and electronic communication devices, some disturbing questions were raised about the street-smarts of the men who run the Supreme Court:(I)n the case City of Ontario v. Quon, which considers whether police officers had an expectation of privacy in personal (and sexually explicit) text messages sent on pagers issued to them by the city, the justices of the Supreme Court at times seemed to struggle with the technology involved.And no, this is not from an Onion article.
The first sign was about midway through the argument, when Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. - who is known to write out his opinions in long hand with pen and paper instead of a computer - asked what the difference was “between email and a pager?”
Other justices’ questions showed that they probably don’t spend a lot of time texting and tweeting away from their iPhones either.
At one point, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked what would happen if a text message was sent to an officer at the same time he was sending one to someone else.
“Does it say: ‘Your call is important to us, and we will get back to you?’” Kennedy asked.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrangled a bit with the idea of a service provider.
“You mean (the text) doesn’t go right to me?” he asked.
Then he asked whether they can be printed out in hard copy.
“Could Quon print these spicy little conversations and send them to his buddies?” Scalia asked.
April 21, 2010
The Best and the Brightest: