You vs. SCOTUS: Take the Quiz


A few U.S. Supreme Court justices were recently mocked by the media for their lack of tech savvy. The mocking called attention to their senior citizen status, subtly and not so subtly blaming their technological cluelessness on their age.

Older people who have to keep up with technology to stay employable – or just to keep up with today’s news and their grandkids – know that age doesn’t stop you from staying current. All it takes is motivation. But with their lifetime appointments, Supreme Court justices can stay in the world of phonograph records and dusty telephone books, relying on tech savvy younger clerks. And apparently some of them do. The court itself doesn’t yet use email to communicate.

The picture of black-robed justices scrawling their notes with pen and ink on ivory paper might seem appealingly old-school – but while some commentators say the media mocking has been unfair (“After all, this is the Supreme Court, not the Apple Genius Bar,” one blogger wrote), others consider the judges’ ignorance about everything from cell phones to email and streaming video dangerous, given that they deliberate crucial decisions about technology; decisions that involve issues of privacy, fairness, equality, intellectual property and free speech.

Few of us could compete with SCOTUS on arcane matters of law; but how do we compare when it comes to tech knowledge? Take our quiz and compute your standing vis-a-vis Justices Ginsburg (age 81), Scalia (78), Kennedy (77), Breyer ( 75), Thomas (65), Alito (64), Sotomayor (59), Roberts (59) and Kagan (54).

You’ll be showing the rest of the media that age has nothing to do with it – or learning more about the digital culture we are all a part of.




 Here’s How the Justices Fared


  1. Google is the world’s most popular…
    Correct answer: A. Roberts thought it was B. For an interesting discussion of the patentability of internet and/or computer processes, click here.
  2. HBO gets to you…
    Correct answer: C. Scalia thought it was A.
  3. When you’re reading a Kindle, the text you see is…
    Correct answer: A. Kennedy thought it was C.
  4. If you send a text to someone who’s sending a text at the same time…
    Correct answer:B. Kennedy asked if it was C.
  5. True or false: There is no real difference between a search engine and the Yellow Pages, except a search engine is faster…
    Correct answer: False. Roberts suggested it was this. Click here for a discussion.
  6. To block violent images in video games, you…
    Correct answer: B. Kennedy thought it was A.
  7. If you send a spicy text to another person’s phone, your privacy is most likely to be compromised by…
    Correct answer: C. Scalia thought it was B.
  8. When you use your phone to send a text to someone else’s, the message…
    Correct answer: C. Roberts thought it was A.
  9. True or false: Most computer programs can be written in a weekend in a Silicon Valley coffee shop
    Correct answer: False. Kennedy suggested it might be this.

To be fair, it seems the justices do try to educate themselves when a case requires it. The blog Politico reports that, according to Justice Kagan, they “Try to learn on their own. In one case, involving violent video games the first year she was on the court, justices who had never played the games before dove in and gave them a try. ‘It was kind of hilarious,’ she said.”


How did you do? Share your score in the comments below. And weigh in on the topic of the week: Should Supreme Court judges be more up to date on current technologies?



4 responses to “You vs. SCOTUS: Take the Quiz

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