Let’s face it. Supreme Court coverage is boring. It gets bogged down by long explanations of complex legal issues. No wonder two-third of Americans can’t name a single Supreme Court Justice.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Tonight is opening night for the NBA, which is coming off a banner television ratings year. As it turns out, SCOTUS shares a lot of things in common with the NBA. So let’s look at a few things that the Court could do to attract new fans by pulling a few pages out of the NBA’s playbook. Here are five possibilities.
5. Rename the Terms.
SCOTUS terms run from October – June, basically the same as basketball seasons. And most of the really big action in each term comes in May and June, at the same time as the playoffs. Here is the difference, SCOTUS identifies terms with the beginning year. So, SCOTUS just began its 2013 Term, which will end in June 2014. That doesn’t make sense. Remember the ’98 Bulls? That was the ’97-’98 season: the last of the Jordan years in Chicago and when this happened, NOT the ’98-’99 season, which nobody remembers.
Name one thing that happened in the Supreme Court in 2012.
I’ll let you think for a moment.
Obamacare! That’s the answer. The big Obamacare case was decided in June 2012. But according SCOTUS, it occurred during the 2011 term. That’s just silly. Supreme Court terms should be referred to by the year they end. This blog will start the trend.
This one is obvious. The Court holds “arguments.” Think about that. What institutional function is more tailor-made for TV than that? Sure, few people care about most SCOTUS issues. But guess what? It doesn’t matter. Arguments make great TV. Viewers don’t care about the substantive issues. They want to see the fight. Jersey Shore was a hit for god’s sake!
And what else comes with TV? Announcers! Mark my words, sit Bill Walton next to a Harvard Law School professor, tell them to do play-by-play of SCOTUS arguments and you’ll have hours of entertainment (if for no other reason than because Walton will never EVER stop pretending that he knows what he’s talking about).
Alas, the Justices are adamant about keeping cameras out of the Courtroom.
Excuse me …
Give me a moment to wipe the tears from my eyes …
Hang on …
Let’s move on.
The Supreme Court fits around 400 observers. The average NBA stadium fits around 17,000. Come on SCOTUS! If you build it, they will come! You ought to at least be able to break the four-digit barrier. Think of the possibilities: dramatic lighting, pre-argument attractions, sideline reporters, a JUMBOTRON! The possibilities are endless!