Organizations of all sorts hope to attract Supreme Court justices to speak at their annual events as a means of drawing attention to their group and their mission. Case in point: earlier this year Justice Samuel Alito gave remarks at the 10th anniversary gala of the International Network of Boutique Law Firms (INBLF).
The event was held at the Supreme Court, and Alito focused his remarks on the court’s history. Video and audio coverage was not allowed.
Of course that’s not the only perk INBLF got out of the week. “Nine members of the group were sworn into the Supreme Court bar,” wrote Tony Mauro in the National Law Journal. The next time those nine want to see the Nine, they’ll skip the long line that wends its way around the court plaza and get dibs on the few and coveted courtroom seats for oral argument.
While the White House and many congressional offices each day release the public schedules of the President and members of Congress, respectively, the Supreme Court refrains from giving advance notice of when a justice is appearing in public for a lecture, seminar, or other event. And sometimes, when a justice appears in public, he or she goes to great lengths to ensure a speech or panel discussion is not recorded or broadcast. Further, it’s not always clear from a justice’s annual financial disclosure report who paid for his or her travel to and lodging for said event.
Fix the Court is calling on the court to advise the press of the justices’ public appearances (i.e., not vacation or other personal dealings) outside of the court, allow media coverage of most of those appearances like other top government officials and be more forthcoming about their travel benefactors in their disclosure reports.