British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, whose leisurely pastimes included painting and bricklaying, once suggested, “To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.”

It’s debatable whether the British Bulldog would suggest Supreme Court watching constitutes a “real” hobby, but following the final week of the High Court has become an obsession for many – made even more convenient thanks to SCOTUSblog.

Founded by husband-and-wife team Tom Goldstein and Amy How in 2002, the popular site has become the go-to for those interested in real-time coverage of a court that traditionally operates quietly and without much fanfare. Even in 2024, no cameras are permitted in the courtroom, and justices rarely give interviews. The SCOTUSblog site promotes itself as being “independent” and works hard to keep its reporting factual and absent of bias.

The United States Supreme Court also operates a website, where it posts links to each decision, but without any commentary or analysis.

The banter on decision days on SCOTUSblog usually kicks off approximately 30 minutes before the court opens. Speculation swirls regarding how many cases will be released that day, which ones – and, of course, how the justices will rule. Like the ever-observant trench coat wearing television detective Columbo, posters search high and low for clues. They might comment on how many bins are placed out, as well as what justice hasn’t authored a decision in a while.

“We didn’t get anything [yesterday] from either the Chief Justice or Gorsuch, who each still have only three opinions,” wrote Amy Howe this morning. “And Justice Alito only has four, although there has been speculation that he had the opinion in Gonzalez v. Trevino and lost it.”

The closer you get to 10 a.m. eastern time, the more amped up people get online as they await the release of decisions.

“Buckle up,” declares James. “Drum roll …” types Kevin. “I live for days like this,” quips Grant.

Many users share details on the blog about refreshing their browser every few seconds, almost as if you might be trying to register for classes or buy tickets to a blockbuster event that’s sure to be sold out.

Traffic to SCOTUSblog soars each June when the higher profile cases are traditionally released. Television networks place reporters outside the court, employing “runners” who will fetch the printed decisions from the press room and then deliver them to the on-air-talent. Beginning in late spring, journalists begin filing stories about the highly anticipated cases still to be decided.

It’s all rather frantic, hectic, admittedly educational – but also a sign that something has gone terribly wrong in America.

Since 1995, the Supreme Court has been releasing less than 100 decisions each term, except for 2008 when it issued 116. Back in the late 1950s and 1960s, the High Court was ruling on as many as 370 cases in a single term.

More cases, fewer landmark rulings, less controversy and not nearly as many people following the justices in hobby-like fashion.

What’s changed are a rise in radical activists determined to remake and revolutionize America, an increase in lawmakers who are unwilling to lobby for and pass constitutional legislation that might otherwise be politically unpopular – and the explosion of activist judges who happily legislate from the bench.

In his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee back in 2005, Chief Justice John Roberts declared:

“Judges and Justices are servants of the law, not the other way around.  Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules, they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical.  They make sure everybody plays by the rules, but it is a limited role.  Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.”

Trying telling that to fans of the late justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who achieved cult-like status in her later years on the bench. Considered a “feminist rock star,” she was featured on bobble-head dolls, action figurines, t-shirts, and in scores of books. The “Notorious RBG” was both revered and reviled.

The United States Supreme Court serves a critical function, especially when it wrestles us back from the proverbial abyss when radical activists try to upend truth and tradition and when lower courts ignore the Constitution.

It’s one thing to admire and appreciate judicial scholarship, but when judges become cultural icons, and when watching for rulings with bated breath becomes the norm each June, it’s a sign the culture has jumped the tracks.


Image from Shutterstock.