WASHINGTON -- Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said this weekend that he encourages clerks not to tweet, adding that none of the nine justices, to his knowledge, use Twitter and betraying that he is not sure exactly what "a tweet" is.
"Some members of the court are more adept at that than others," he said at the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference on Saturday. "I don't think any of us have a Facebook page or a tweet -- whatever that is. But technology is making inroads."
At least one justice does have a Twitter account, but it is private. Justice Stephen Breyer said in April that he made an account in 2010 to track the so-called Green Revolution in Iran following the country's 2009 presidential elections. But he told the House Appropriations general government subcommittee he was testifying in front of that he had been unsure how to erase the account.
"My name is on there, so from time to time, since I don't know how to take it off, I get requests, 'can we follow you?' which ... is quite flattering, but I wisely say no," he said in a Congressional hearing on April 14. "Judges wear black robes so that they will resist the temptation to publicize themselves, because we really speak for the law and that is to be anonymous. ... I wouldn't want followers on the Tweeter [sic] or people going to the Facebook page."
The court overall falls behind the general populace on technology, with many members especially resistant to having the court videotaped.
Roberts said on Saturday he is concerned that having cameras in the courtroom would lead to more "grandstanding," not more transparency.
"We worry about the impact on lawyers, I worry about the impact on judges ... We unfortunately fall into grandstanding with a couple of hundred people in the courtroom," he said. "I’m a little concerned about what the impact would be."
The Supreme Court is already part of "the most transparent branch of government," he said.
"Everything we do that has an impact is done in public," he said. "You don't see the deliberations of committees and cabinet. You see our work in public at the Court. Our decisions are out there.”