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Justices Breyer and Kennedy on the Law and the Tweeter

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, April 15 2011

Heh, an important public official says something dopey about Twitter, and this time doing the honors is Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. "I have a tweeting thing," said Breyer when he was questioned as part of a House Approps hearing this week, "because I was very interested in the Iranian revolution." What he seems to be getting at is that he has a Twitter client of some sort on some device so that he can keep up with news that's of interest to him.

But a little more interesting was Anthony Kennedy's response. He seemed to be searching his brain for something, anything to say in response to the question put to him on what he thinks of social media. He came up with a topic he's talked about before. "The law lives in the consciousness of the people," he said, but then he tweaked the idea to apply to things like Twitter and Facebook. "And to the extent to which that finds its way into the social media, I think that's all to the good." Kennedy might be overestimating the degree to which people are wall posting about what's happening at the high court -- but hey, you certainly see things like the Citizens United ruling making frequent social media fodder.

Now, what might help the state of legal discourse along would be for SCOTUS to become a more tweet-friendly place, but Breyer doesn't think that's very likely. "Judges wear black robes so that they will resist the temptation to publicize themselves," he explained.

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