When Antonin Scalia passed away last week, it set off a firestorm between Democrats and Republicans over when a replacement should be nominated, and who should do it.
Forget all that, and forget the politics and ideology involved. I'd like to nominate five people with deep technology experience and a demonstrated history of solving problems to join the Supreme Court and bring them up to date on the technological issues that increasingly underpin many controversial cases, from Net Neutrality to online harassment.
Remember, the Supremes don't have to be lawyers, though most are, and they don't have to have judicial experience, though most do. And you can't tell me it wouldn't help to have someone who actually understood what was going on, and what was at stake, when modern technology get so far ahead of our laws and legal processes.
Last fall, I nominated Mikey Dickerson for president. That didn't work out, obviously, so now I'm going for Supreme Court Justice.
Dickerson is administrator of the U.S. Digital Service, which is revamping and modernizing how the federal government uses technology. He's a proven expert at cutting through red tape to focus on and solve the real issues. Finally, no one would notice his raggedy t-shirts under those Supreme Court robes. Can you tell I'm a big fan?
Fresh off his short-lived presidential run, Lessig is already deep into politics, he's an experienced and high-profile lawyer, and he actually understands many of the technological complexities affecting our nation. As a co-founder of Creative Commons, he'd go a long way to fixing the copyright system. Plus, I've been fortunate to witness some of his personal interactions, and he's always come across as thoughtful, kind, and helpful. (Hat tip to Phil Shapiro.)
The new meme is that billionaires are the best presidential candidates, because they have so much money they can't be bought. Well, Gates has more cash than all the other candidates combined (including former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has made some noise about forming a third-party candidacy). Gates knows tech, he's got big-time managerial experience, and he's largely reformed his vulture capitalist ways honed at Microsoft for a more philanthropic approach.
The Facebook COO has done a bang-up job turning a young, unproven company into a smooth-running Internet powerhouse – while also making a name for herself championing working women. And after the tragic loss of her husband last year, Sandberg might be ready for a dramatically new challenge.
OK, so he's Finnish-American, which isn't going to endear him to any large constituencies in the Senate. But as the creator of Linux and a leader of the open source software movement, Torvalds would be the perfect person to bring a new ethos of sharing and cooperation to the Court. Imagine if Supreme Court opinions were open sourced in GitHub. Wouldn't that be awesome?
That's my short list, but there are plenty of other choices who would probably do far better than whoever actually gets nominated. I'm kind of sad that Steve Jobs is no longer with us. Imagine Jobs blasting law clerks and sending back legal briefs for more work because they weren't formulated well enough. And who wouldn't want to read a Supreme Court opinion that ended with “one more thing?” That would be amazing!
Who would you like to see on the bench?