Supreme Court — ‘Hasn’t Really Gotten to E-Mail’

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

U.S. President Barack Obama stands with Elena Kagan, confirmed associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, claps during a reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., in this Aug. 6, 2010 file photo.

No e-mails in chambers at the Supreme Court:

Justice Elena Kagan, who says she brought a certain sense of social media with her to the high court, says communications among the justices look the same as they did when she clerked for Thurgood Marshall three decades ago:

“She says justices write memos, which are then printed out on ivory paper that looks like it came from the 19th century,” the AP reports of an appearance that Kagan made in Providence, Rhode Island today. “The memos are walked around the building by someone called a `chambers aide.’”

“The justices are not necessarily the most technologically sophisticated people,” she said, adding that while clerks email each other, “The court hasn’t really ‘gotten to’ email.”

The justices often count on their clerks, much younger, to help them understand new technology, she said in a conversation with Ted Widmer, a historian and librarian at Brown University. The talk was part of a celebration of the 350th anniversary of Rhode Island’s colonial charter hosted by Gov. Lincoln Chafee and sponsored by the Roger Williams University School of Law.

In one case, involving violent video games the first year she was on the court, justices who had never played the games before dove in and gave them a try, Kagan said. “It was kind of hilarious,” she said, stopping short of saying what games the justices had played.

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