Other than the Supreme Court itself, there is one place where we all go to look for the latest news from the nation's high court: SCOTUSblog. Lawyers, students, reporters, bloggers, and even the judges themselves follow the blog, which provides constant coverage of everything Court-related, from opinion orders, to oral arguments. The blog has become so authoritative, that it is often mistaken for the actual court, especially on Twitter.
And yet, despite their authoritative reputation, the blog, which will soon be sporting a "For Sale" sign, lacks a press credential.
SCOTUSblog: A Failed Marketing Campaign
Why is the best unofficial source of Supreme Court news still unofficial? According to The Associated Press, the blog's founder, Tom Goldstein, is also a leading Supreme Court practitioner.
Like many law blogs, he started SCOTUSblog as a way to drum up business. And while law blogs can be effective for many practice areas, apparently the blog has not been nearly as effective for high-level appellate work. Goldstein called it, "a really stupid idea," and noted that, "People don't say, 'Get me the guy with the website.'"
But they should.
Despite its failures as a marketing device, it has proven its mettle as a resource for the Court curious. Unfortunately, due to concerns over handing a press credential to an attorney that appears before the Court regularly, the Court has not yet granted SCOTUSblog, or any of its staff, a press pass. Their lead reporter, Lyle Denniston, obtains access through a Boston radio station's pass, reports the AP.
Ethics: Legal, Judicial, Journalistic, and Blogalistic
Does the Court have much choice? Doesn't giving press access to a blog owned by an attorney that regularly argues cases before it at least give the appearance of impropriety? (It should be noted that the blog does a great job of disclosing whenever Goldstein's firm is involved with a case.)
The AP notes that the Court is reviewing its credentialing process for the first time in forty years. While that could be good or bad news for SCOTUSblog, it should be interesting to see if more law blogs in general get access to the court. After all, where do more people look for their news nowadays -- blogs or radio stations?
The real shocker, from the AP story and later confirmed by the ABA Journal, is that the blog is for sale. Goldstein noted that a three-year sponsorship with Bloomberg Law is ending, and that the blog costs $500,000 per year to run.
What are your thoughts on the ethical conundrum? Anyone have $500,000 or so to spare? Tweet us @FindLawLP.
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