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“The People’s Justice” Should be Forthcoming with “the People”

She’s dropped the ball in Times Square, thrown out a ball at Yankee Stadium and had a ball dancing with Jorge Ramos on Univision.

Justice Sotomayor has been called “the people’s justice,” though “the people” aren’t sure where she’s going to show up next.

The type of public persona we want from our Supreme Court is up for debate, and at the very least, each justice should of course have full control over what they’d like their public image to be. But the reasons the justices hide so much from the public – if it wasn’t for SCOTUS Map, would we even know when a justice is giving a talk or teaching a class – remain unclear.

Many Americans have said that hearing the stories of Supreme Court justices – and those of Sotomayor and Thomas, especially – and meeting them in person has inspired their own lives. So shouldn’t more people know when the justices are out in public to receive the public?

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 advanced 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.

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