Supreme Court Rulings Include Links to Nowhere

Monday, October 07, 2013

404 error sign in an Internet browser. (JMiks/Shutterstock)

The Supreme Court is one of the few government institutions still operating this week amid the government shutdown.

But just because the Court is up and running, doesn't mean its website is.

According to a new study, 49 percent of the hyperlinks in recent Supreme Court decisions lead absolutely nowhere.

Those links should bring the reader to footnotes, citations, past decisions—the meat behind some major Court decisions.

And Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and the author of the study, thinks this is a big problem. He explains why here.

These are the links our Host John Hockenberry references in this audio segment. Here is a link to the opinion by Justice Samuel Alito. Here is a link to one of the first footnotes in this opinion—it works. This link, which also works, comes from one of the later footnotes. Here is a link cited in the opinion that does not work.

Guests:

Jonathan Zittrain

Produced by:

Ellen Frankman

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

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