On August 19th, Justice Kennedy gave an address that included an interesting passing remark about the role of blogs. Justice Kennedy was talking about how law review case comments generally come out too late to be of use to the Court (especially in the context of deciding whether to grant certiorari in a case). As a result, when Justice Kennedy asks his clerks to look to see what the law reviews have said about a particular case, there isn’t any commentary yet. Justice Kennedy adds: “I’ve found, what my clerks do now, when they have interesting cases — They read blogs.”This means that the lawprofs who keep up high-profile blogs have disproportionate influence. You have traditional lawprofs laboring over law review articles, but these articles come out too late to discuss a case that's pending in the Supreme Court. One answer — I'm not the first to say this* — is that law review articles should properly be about something other than the latest pending or just-decided cases, something more timeless and profound. But I think that most law professors would like to be involved in the legal developments of the day. It must be irritating to see that the lawprof bloggers have a special line to the Court.
This may stir up an old question that I know nags at some law professors: Will I be required to blog? Very soon after I started blogging, I heard the question is it acceptable for lawprofs to blog? and then, right after that, the question will I be required to blog? jumped up. In the minds of some non-blogging lawprofs, it preceded the question is it good for lawprofs to blog? — which seemed like a more appropriate question to me. But I can see why someone with a legal mind would ask will I be required to blog? before is it good for lawprofs to blog? It's the same reason lawyers think what do I want the answer to be? before they try to figure out what the answer is.
Anyway, Justice Kennedy's remark shows why it's good for lawprofs to blog, but it would be ridiculous to require lawprofs to blog. Wouldn't it? Or is it ridiculous to require lawprofs to write law review articles?
*And I'm writing this too quickly to figure out who else has said this.