Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Dahlia Lithwick gave the keynote address Monday at the opening session. Apologies for the awful photograph -- there's a much better one on the front page of yesterday's Philadelphia Story. Lithwick spoke on free speech in the Supreme Court. She sees a schism in the court on the issue of free speech which has no relation to ideology. On this issue, Justices Scalia and Alito, who are in deep agreement elsewhere, are in deep disagreement. She ultimately traces this schism back to the Senate confirmation process, in which the justices, shy people not used to media attention at all, are subjected to a brutal confirmation in the media spotlight. Everyone knows it's a game except the justices, Lithwick says, and this then becomes their exposure to the media. Her talk was a great insight into what actually happens on the court. Lithwick feels that 90% of the work of the court is nuanced, thoughtful deliberation with great respect for the law. Lithwick feels that the court's fear of the media and the new technologies which serve to amplify that media actually works to ensure that what we hear about the court does not give a real sense of what actually happens on the court. If the court would embrace media, mainstream legal coverage would be less sensational and more informative.