Googling Judges on the Supreme Court!
A recent Washington Post article discussed how United States Supreme Court judges are googling information and research to back up their positions in some very important Constitutional Law Cases involving the U.S. Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution.
Supreme Court Justice “Scalia cited a nine-day-old newspaper article in his dissent, and he is hardly alone: The justices routinely supplement their arguments with facts, studies, media reports, law review articles and other materials that none of the parties in the case before them ever put forward or countered. How judges use generalized facts about the world in their legal decisions has become a new focus of legal academic research.”
Per legal tradition in both Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and the United States of America judges sit passively and allow both parties to present their case. It up to the lawyers (plus interested parties & interveners) bring for all the fact, law, issues, supporting documentation. Essentially anything that is not brought forth in court does not exist, at least that is supposed to be the general principle.
Judges and law clerks are not supposed to do their own research or internet searching, that could turn them into a silent secret third party advocating a position, issue, matter, theory, side, that nobody presented to the court and become a new third party to the case. Further it breaks down the impartiality and objectivity that judges strive for and the people, constitutions, and the law expect.
The internet essentially gives Judges access to the whole internet and a universe of knowledge from the supremely credible (CDC, FBI, Health Canada, University Law Libraries) to those that lack any credibility (Willy Wonka’s Health Advise, Uncle Bob’s Gun Rights, Speedy Gonzales Immigrant Rights). Yet nobody has any idea what judges are looking at, what they take seriously, or where that comment on paragraph 12 came from.
Extra judicial research seems to be running rampant “Virtually all of the justices do it regardless of whether they are traditionally labeled liberal or conservative,” Larsen found, “and they cite authorities they find themselves on a wide range of subject matter (from biology to history to golf).” There are no rules about in-house research, [should we be] troubled by the risks: “the possibility of mistake, unfairness to the parties, and judicial enshrinement of biased data which can now be quickly posted to the world by anyone without cost.”
That Supreme Court Judges conduct their own research in secret, put into their decisions undermines the impartiality, objectivity, the adversary process, and directly breaks down the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. How can anyone expect a fair trial, a fair hearing, a fair sentence, a fair interpretation of the law and the constitution. It much like the old days where judges quoted the bible to justify their decisions now is the wild wild west with millions upon millions of secret sources available to justify a position or decision.
I recommend the Washington Post article with specific citations including the Arizona Immigrant case, Roe v Wade, Graham v Florida (life without parole) California violent video games, and more statistics: WP Story…
Of course this article begs the question, Are the Justices sitting on the Supreme Court of Canada googling and/or doing their own secret internet research? And if so, does that activity violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the principle of justice?