I live far from Washington DC, and my practice in law has never
required me to bring a matter before SCOTUS. So, for me, membership
in the SCOTUS bar would be a bauble, a nice certificate to add to my
I used to consider the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to
be an institution with honor and integrity.
I no longer hold that opinion.
I used to believe that a case before SCOTUS would be decided using
clear logic, established precedent, and prudence.
I no longer hold that opinion.
Every now and then I ask myself “Should I petition to become a member
of the United States Supreme Court Bar?”
But now I add a second question: “Do I want to debase myself by asking
for admission to an institution that is no longer worthy of respect?”
I gave one of the two keynote presentations at NANOG (North American Network Operators' Group) in the fall of 2019.
There were two parts to the talk.
The first part deals with the responsibilities, obligations, and
liabilities of being an operator of parts of an Internet that was
becoming a lifeline grade public utility.
The second part shifts to ways we design and implement the Internet to
improve its resiliance to errors, problems, and attacks. I suggest
that we look beyond traditional methods of designing and
implementing computer systems. In particular I urge that we take a look at
the methods used by living things to improve their ability to survive.
Below the break is the textual transcript of the talk.
In case the video does not start at the right place, my presentation begins at 7:43.
Throughout our country people are talking about the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS).
There are few alive today who have experienced a more conservative Supreme Court.
And there are few objective observers who would deny that on today’s court that legal principle is often subordinated to fundamentalist religious views, libertarian biases against the Federal government, or hazy notions of “natural law”.
Many of the conversation about SCOTUS ask whether we ought to expand the number of justices (pejoratively called “court packing”) or impose some sort of term or age limits on the justices (which would probably require a Constitutional amendment that would be a practical impossibility in today’s political climate.)
But there is another matter.
It is an important matter. It is overlooked. It is a matter that is fully within the power of Congress (with the President’s signature). And it is a matter that requires no Constitutional amendment.
Our Supreme Court is overworked.
The growth of our government, our regulatory agencies, and the ever ramifying complexity of our lives, economy, and technology have increased the work demanded of the court.
SCOTUS does not have the resources to do a proper job.
This article argues that we ought to reshape our Supreme Court so that it can better deal with the workload.
This article proposes nothing radical. Rather the proposal here builds upon long established practices of US courts, most particularly the United States courts of appeal.