This post has been updated.
When the Supreme Court rules on social issues, the Internet tends to throw an extra-big watch party. So when it decided Monday that "closely held corporations" can decline to pay for birth control coverage for their employees if they object to contraception on religious grounds, the response was swift.
I’m going to have Chick-Fil-A for lunch to celebrate the Hobby Lobby win.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) June 30, 2014
Wow. @SCOTUSblog what a way to wake up in the 1950s. Giving the choice of healthcare to the few, the uninformed, the prejudiced.— Nicole Cameron (@Nicole_Cameron) June 30, 2014
Yes, the Internet was not very happy that SCOTUSblog decided some corporations were exempted from offering all contraceptives to their employees. Wait, what?
It turns out that there is a disconcertingly large number of angry social media users who think our Supreme Court justices are the ones at the helm of SCOTUSblog, rather than a few nerdy lawyers who are more excited about judgement days at the court than most. Instead of letting all this rage go to waste, though, Tom Goldstein, publisher of SCOTUSblog, decided to hold these misguided souls accountable by sharing the confusion with the SCOTUSblog Twitter account's followers, and adding a bit of commentary. (Brevity is the soul of trolling.)
— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) June 30, 2014
Clearly, these people have not read the many, many, many stories that have been written about how Supreme Court justices abstain from the Internet. Unless Ruth Bader Ginsburg is secretly running a parody Twitter account ...
Things done changed, but we continue to reign / lifetime appointments to the bench means I'm not retiring for your political agenda— Notorious R.B.G. (@NotoriousRBG) June 10, 2014
... it may be best to send your complaints through the post office.
Also noted: Justice Antonin Scalia does not work for SCOTUSblog. But we assume he owns a "Team Lyle" T-shirt. And maybe wears it under his robe at every oral argument.
Even after the not-so-subtle trolling, some people still didn't get it.
The passive aggressive way @SCOTUSblog is answering right now is horrible considering the position they just put women in. Not okay.— Dumb of the Day (@WollyWollenberg) June 30, 2014
All the mean things said made SCOTUSblog kind of sad ...
... which is unsurprising, given that SCOTUSblog's presence is usually met with swoons. Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog's chief reporter, has somewhat of a fan base, as the aforementioned T-shirts show. Sarah Kliff interviewed the octogenarian about being an Internet superstar before the 2012 Obamacare decision.
He tried Twitter last year but did not like it, which is slightly ironic, since many of his online fans, myself included, tried to get #TeamLyle to trend on Twitter during his recent dispatches.
"It sounds like if you get mentioned a number of times, with a hashtag, you end up trending," Denniston told me. I told him that was accurate.
"Does that get me a cup of coffee?" Denniston asked.
I informed him that it did not, but did bring some Internet fame and glory.
"Oh, okay," he responded.
SCOTUSblog also highlighted their angriest Twitter mentions after the Defense Against Marriage Act and Prop 8 decisions last year. "We were praised and hated for the gay marriage decisions, and reviled for striking down the Voting Rights Act," Goldstein says. This year, they were "ready for it to happen."
The SCOTUSblog Twitter feed has had people send them nice tweets too, or ask them questions, thinking that their queries are drifting all the way up to the high court. Goldstein doesn't retweet them. "You have to be a jerk to get called out."
When asked which of the justices would be able to best manage the Supreme Court's #brand on Twitter, Goldstein responded, "nobody. Comedy is not their thing."
Correction: We included a tweet in an earlier version of this post that was in fact a joke making fun of the confusion instead of rage directed toward SCOTUSblog. Given the reserves of earnest complaints left unembedded, we added a couple more of those instead.