[Judge Diane] Sykes steers the panel to another aspect of the impact of blogs: should judges read them? Should they cite them? Volokh chuckles that they should definitely cite them. As to reading them: he doesn't see how in this regard reading them is any different to1 reading a newspaper. He adds that blogs can almost serve as a quasi-Amicus brief, one that bypasses the cumbersome amicus process. And as a general rule, he adds, if you get an idea from a source, any source - be it an Amicus brief, the New York Times or Sentencing Law & Policy, you should cite it. The session's only question a little later picks up on this, wondering if it's appropriate for blogs to try and influence judges. Volokh observes that logs are public information no less so than a treatise or a newspaper, they are citable and should be cited, and while it might be inappropriate to try and influence a judge in a private email conversation with them, doing so by putting forward arguments in the public record seems appropriate enough. In some senses, he says, what is legal scholarship other than an attempt to influence judges?
Bashman notes that Judges clearly read blogs: aside from the Chief Justice, who we know reads How Appealing (see above), if he points out a typographical error in an opinion on his blog, the opinion is usually corrected or temporarily withdrawn until it can be corrected within a half-hour. He's learned from this to save a copy of any opinions before pointing out particularly humorous typos.
Althouse doesn't see any impropriety per se, but observes that there's a concern that certain kinds of reporting on blogs might influence Judges to play to the audience a little; if a certain kind of opinion seems likely to get them good reviews on the blogs, there's a concern that might distort judicial behavior. "AMK," I write in the margin and underline twice. Connecting this to the subject of cameras in the court Ann mentions David Lat's "judicial superhotties" contest, and wonders what pressures it would exert on Justices for blogs to be writing catty and critical comments about the Justices' appearence. "Perhaps not every blogger would do that... But I would," she concludes, with a chuckle. (This is the day's audience laughter runner-up to Turley's line about Roberts.)
1Simon's English. And he likes footnotes. I haven't done a blog post footnote since my first year of blogging. I have a personal rule against it. But I'm breaking my rule here as a tribute to Simon for writing such a damned comprehensive post on the conference. It's really helpful. And full of good observations and insights. By the way, I deleted a footnote of his from the quoted passage. It was footnote 41! As for what Turley said about Roberts (and his family), I remembered that to blog about in my post about the media panels. It was: "They looked like they were raised hydroponically by Karl Rove."