Members of Congress have repeatedly called for the Supreme Court to televise its proceedings, an issue to which Solicitor General Kagan is reportedly receptive. Making the Court’s proceedings more accessible to the public is a great idea; television alone isn’t enough. The Supreme Court’s web presence, even with its recent facelift, woefully fails to provide the basic services the American people expect from their government.
The Supreme Court publishes online opinions going back to its 2006 Term, a mere half-decade. Briefs filed before the Court are only available elsewhere online — e.g. some merits briefs are available from the ABA — or are not available at all. And non-profit organizations, like Oyez, must obtain audio recordings of the Court’s proceedings from the National Archives at the end of each Term, as the Court doesn’t make audio available right after argument takes place, and certainly not on its website.
The Judiciary shouldn’t be this backward. Just a few days ago, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts unveiled a new website, which includes RSS feeds, enhanced multimedia services, and widgets. Last year, we built a model of what a modern Supreme Court website could look like.
When it comes time for the Senate to question Solicitor General Kagan, she should be asked whether she supports bringing the highest court’s online presence into the 21st century.