Supreme Court justices don't do e-mail (Trust issues?)

The youngest justice, Elena Kagan, admits that her fellow large minds haven't got around to e-mailing yet. Retrograde? Or wily?

Justice Kagan, holding what's known as a microphone. Aspen Institute/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

When you sit on high, sometimes it's hard to always grasp what the fuss is down below.

This is surely true if you're a Supreme Court justice. You get cases that seem to be about awfully minor details, such as whether someone called Chad in Florida should be hanged.

Then there are all these new technology cases. I mean, it's like trying to decide which robot has the better parts. Who cares? They're all robots.

It was heartening, therefore, to achieve a small glimpse into the Court's world, courtesy of the youngest justice, 53-year-old Elena Kagan.

As the Associated Press reports, Kagan, speaking in Providence, R.I., offered that she and her fellow robe-wearers "are not necessarily the most technologically sophisticated people."

One hopes that she said this with pride. Justices shouldn't have to bend to every newfangled habit that comes along.

Please imagine if they all came to work on Segways. That would be conduct unbecoming.

I can imagine the guffaws of snippy youth on hearing that, instead of e-mail or Snapchat, the justices send each other missives on paper. Those guffaws should be swallowed whole.

These wise justices are clinging to the future.

They have surely seen and heard that e-mail is about as secure as a wet paper bag holding a case of port.

They must have heard whispers that the government itself is reading everything that everyone writes.

How painful it would be if an e-mail from one justice to another was intercepted.

What if, say, Justice Scalia e-mailed Justice Alito (a known gamer): "Samuel, do you have the latest Call of Duty? I'm dying for some violent entertainment."

What if Justice Sotomayor were to e-mail Justice Kagan and snort: "I'm worried about the deodorant some of these boys are using. They're not spraying themselves with Axe, are they?"?

Imagine if any of that ever got out. We would be facing constitutional crises on a weekly basis.

No, we will all soon be reverting to paper for our most private needs.

I am astonished that no Y-Combinator company hasn't already created a means to socially network on parchment.

Because the mail is so slow, we could have pigeons carrying our paper messages. Their heads would be implanted with futuristic GPS devices and their bodies would be powered by astonishing little rockets.

If at any point these pigeons were intercepted, they would immediately self-combust.

The authorities might work out for whom the messages were intended. But they'd never know what was said.

 

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