So much of the rhythm of my life, and that of my family, has been dictated for more than a half-century by the Supreme Court’s calendar. And so it is with the completion this coming week of the Court’s most recent Term. With one more live blog, and some picking up of loose ends, my journey with SCOTUSblog ends.
It has been a fabulous trip, since February 2004, when my then-latest attempt at retirement proved — as usual — to be premature. In those twelve-plus years, SCOTUSblog has become a standout in legal journalism, more than fulfilling the creative dream that Tom Goldstein and Amy Howe had when they started it before I logged on with them.
The blog has provided a rich education for me in the Digital World; that realm now is as comfortable for me as were my years with a standup typewriter and moveable type. It is a whole lot faster, though, and my keeping up with the pace probably has more than anything to do with the old days at The Washington Star, when I picked up the phone on decision days at the Court and dictated stories — in final news form — moments after the rulings came down, with an 11:15 deadline for immediate publication.
One thing that I noticed early about digital journalism, and still sense very strongly, is that it truly is a part of a community, one where competition still is lively but cooperation and sharing actually work to enrich everybody’s stories. My years at the blog would have been a failure had it not been for the legions of people who have been so eager to send me story ideas, react to what I do, correct my errors, and — overall — put me in the center of something that others have called “#waitingforlyle.”
The blog has also taught me that serious journalism still has a very large place amid the babbling noises of the Internet. I have but one regret, and it is that I was unable to persuade the traditional journalists who control the credentialing for Congress that I was as independent as they feel they are, and that journalism can take unusual new forms and still be journalism.
I shall miss, very much, the close comradeship of my colleagues at SCOTUSblog, present and past, and I hope for those who continue, many, many years of success in telling the story of the Court to an ever-expanding audience. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC once described SCOTUSblog as a “national treasure,” and she was close to the mark.
With my journey with the blog about to conclude, it will probably surprise no one that my quest continues. Retirement still eludes me, because I want it to. Next, I will be expanding my role in covering the Court for Constitution Daily, the blog of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. My editor there, Scott Bomboy, is as imaginative a leader as I have ever had, and the Center has grown in stature and cultural impact with Jeff Rosen in charge. The Court’s press room, thus, has not seen the last of me. I will always be reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org
And, through the generosity of the leaders and faculty at the University of Baltimore and its Law School, and my friend, the uniquely talented Garrett Epps, I will take on a role as a lecturer and visiting professor. Since my days with The Baltimore Sun, I have never lost my affection for Charm City, and the University is a dynamic presence in its midst.
And, who knows, I may still have a book or two waiting, inside me, to be written.
Although my future schedule may sound a bit crowded, it will be less so than now, and I plan to let more of the rhythm of my life follow what my beloved Pamela sets for me.