Fix the Court executive director Gabe Roth issued this statement:
In what is yet another unfortunate, albeit expected, blow to transparency at the Supreme Court, today we learned that Justice Scalia’s papers may not be made fully available to the public for three or four decades.
There is good reason for a justice’s papers to remain private while he or she is serving on the court. Beyond that, it is a disservice to the study of the institution and its members to keep them inaccessible for years on end.
That each justice may choose when his or her papers become publicly available is reminiscent of other inconsistent practices at the court – from how justices decide when to recuse themselves to how they manage conflict-inducing investments – that further the notion that the court is less a coherent institution and more a conglomerate of nine independent law offices.
Congress should consider passing a law that would standardize the release of the justices’ papers with an eye toward furthering transparency at the court.