Justice Kagan: U.S. Supreme Court Justices "are like, 'What's Facebook?'"

09/20/2013 08:43 AM

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan has revealed the technological blind spots of the land’s highest court, which —she joked Thursday in Lexington — extends to the intricacies of social media.

Speaking at the UK Singletary Center, Kagan told UK College of Law Dean David A. Brennen that the court is “conservative” when it comes to adopting technology, even as questions about those technologies reach the court.

“It’s a real challenge to learn enough about all these new-fangled things that one didn’t grow up with oneself to make good and wise decisions to help in the way a court ought to help a society respond to the new questions that are going to arise from new technologies,” Kagan said.

For instance, a federal appeals court ruled this week that “liking” something on Facebook is a form of free speech — a decision that could potentially reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

When Brennen referenced that decision, Kagan joked, “My colleagues are like, ‘What’s Facebook?”

And being behind the times technologically was part of what Kagan found most surprising as she returned to the court as a justice 25 years after she served as a clerk.

Kagan also broadly addressed the role the court has had in major decisions about controversial acts of Congress, such as the Affordable Care Act — which the court largely upheld.

“The court, in the end, is the arbiter of where the political process has overrun the constitution improperly. And Trying to figure out what those lines are and where to defer and where not to defer is the hardest part of being a judge,” she said.


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