Here’s the fourth post in our continuing series about why there’s nothing wrong with writing about Supreme Court clerks. Prior installments are available here (Part 1), here (Part 2), and here (Part 3).
We’d also like to direct your attention to this excellent comment by a reader — replete with an eloquent quote from Schopenhauer. It’s like the metaphysical version of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
The balance of this post, making the fourth point in our multi-part argument, appears after the jump.
4. The rise of the internet and blogging has broadened the definition of who is a “public figure.”
On the internet and in the blogosphere, everybody gets their proverbial 15 minutes of fame. The ability to define who is a “public figure” is no longer monopolized by the mainstream media. Public figures aren’t just senators and movie stars now. They’re lonelygirl15, or well-known bloggers, or Supreme Court clerks (who, as previously argued, would qualify as public figures even under traditional, pre-blogging conceptions of the term).
Look. ATL is our little website, where we write about random, law-related people and things that interest us — like, for example, Supreme Court clerks. To state the obvious, that’s our right — First Amendment, blah blah blah. If you don’t like it, then don’t read it.
It’s not like we’re the only people who are exercising free speech by thinking out loud in cyberspace. The inner contents of millions of lives are spilled out onto the internet every minute of every hour of every day. For all the world to read, bloggers write about the boyfriend they’re thinking of dumping, the dry cleaning store owner they argued with, or the professor who never calls on them.
Does this type of blogging violate the privacy of these subjects? Probably. Welcome to the 21st century. There’s this thing called the internet, maybe you’ve heard of it.
And if it’s okay for someone to write about fairly personal matters on their personal blog, then it’s okay for us to do so here. The fact that ATL may receive more readers than a typical personal blog is neither here nor there. Our expression shouldn’t be curtailed simply because more than the average number of people like to read this website. Cf. our defense of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch over at PrawfsBlawg (comments).
If you don’t like what you read here, then stop boosting our traffic with your visits. Just pretend that we don’t exist, and go along your merry way.
Related: Above the law, but not above scrutiny [PrawfsBlawg (see esp. the lively comment thread)]
Earlier: Prior posts in the series “SCOTUS Clerks Are Fair Game” (scroll down)