TG: We are lawyers in 10% of the cases on the merits.
Urban: the 10% are cases that the blog would cover.
Urban: According to your disclaimers, you are taking care of the potential conflicts, employees don't cover them?
TG: When the Court grants cert., if it is one of our cases, we will acknowledge that fact. No editorial content, no substantive analysis. The rule used to be that no one in the firm could write about that.
TG: After exchanges with your group, no one who reports to me in any way, including on the blog, can write or having anything to do with the editorial content of any of the cases. We still include a disclosure.
TG: We find an outside expert. I am not involved in that process in any way; it is done by Kali with outside input. Blog finds someone who knows a lot about the subject matter and doesn't have any conflict.
Urban: In terms of the folks writing up those cases, are they lawyers who may have cases in front of the Court? Would you cover those? How are those accommodated?
TG: Generally speaking, the people who are writing these cases are academics. We do have an academic, Ronald Mann, who covers cases and has been the lawyer in other cases. The same rules apply to him.
Urban: In terms of the cases that G&R has: if you have a case in which your client has asked that you don't disclose, how is that handled?
TG: The only instance in which the role of the firm is not disclosed is when we are opposing review in the Supreme Court and the client says it doesn't want firm name associated with the case. By not putting our name on it, we couldn't be influencing the process. This doesn't happen very often.
Kate Hunter of Bloomberg. Which is wholly separate from Bloomberg Law.
TG: We have had relationships with BNews today.
Hunter: When you live-tweeted from the lawyers' lounge, were you acting as a journalist?
TG: Yes, which is why the Court has banned that practice.
Hunter: How do your readers know which hat you are wearing?
TG: When I am writing on the blog, I am acting as a journalist.
TG: Every once in a while, the Court screws up and discloses something to the public that it doesn't intend to. It has probably happened 6 times in past 10 years.
TG: When the Court does that, I view myself as having two sets of ethical obligations in tension -- to readers, to be accurate; and to Court, as an officer of the Court. If I discover one of these instances, then I won't report on it. But if Lyle does, he would.
KH: Would you refrain from telling one of the reporters on the blog?
TG: Here's what we did. The Court released orders forty minutes early once. We saw it and How Appealing saw it, and what I did was, because the other blog had already published what some of the cases affected were, I took what they had said and indicated that that was what they are reporting.
(That was kind of confusing, sorry.)
TG: It is at least marginally relevant that I can't imagine any of these issues arising with respect to the Senate. I have never lobbied the Hill, we don't have any of these competing interests.
KH: When your ethical obligations conflict with your journalist obligations, do the former supersede the latter?
TG: Yes, as Mike Bloomberg does, Rupert Murdoch does, Jeff Bezos does, but I am not aware of any material conflict.
KH: What structural firewalls are in place -- is it up to you to do the right thing?
TG: I suppose there aren't firewalls because you don't develop a kind of architecture when something happens so rarely. The Court is very pleased that it does not disclose orders or opinions improperly anymore.
KH: Our rules state that the principal business has to be the daily dissemination of news and opinion. Is that yours as the publisher?
TG: Again I am glad that the rules don't refer to the owner, so that if Jeff Bezos owns Amazon you don't have to de-credential the Post. In June, the blog is my principal obligation. I
KH: Would you discourage the blog from reporting news that would adversely affect your client?
TG: Definitely not. Ask Lyle. Much to my client's chagrin.
TG: MY job as a lawyer is not to wound my client. I do have multiple jobs, as do the owners of most publications, but that doesn't shape how we cover things. Everyone who writes for the blog is independent of any direction by me to be nice to or mean to the Court. I would say that 95% of our coverage is objective news reporting.
TG: For the five percent, we are religious about having both sides of an issue equally represented. Which is obviously very different from most newspapers. We don't expect the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times to have the same perspective.
Laura Lytle: I just want to be clear that the Committee does not judge for content.
KH: When the blog reports on Congress, how do you balance your responsibilities to your client?
TG: I have never lobbied the Senate, the firm has never lobbied the Senate.
TG: The rules say that the blog has to be independent. It is independent from the law firm, which does not lobby the Senate. When the blog was sponsored by Akin Gump, the Senate Press told the blog it couldn't have a credential because of that affiliation, which made sense.
TG: Kevin Russell may have assisted Lilly Ledbetter in her testimony. I appeared before a committee regarding coverage of the Supreme Court.
TG: In the 15 years I have represented members of Congress only a few times. I don't have any clients who are members of Congress. I have briefs where they have been signatories. If that happens again, we will make sure we have policies in place.
Emily Etheridge of CQ : talk about Bloomberg sponsorship.
EE: Tell me a little about that sponsorship and how it works.
TG: Bloomberg Law has two advertisements on the blog. It sponsors live blogs of Court's opinions and orders. We run a monthly piece directed at law students, sponsored by BLAW.
TG: We run a competition for law students to predict the outcome of cert. petitions and S. Ct. cases, they compete against the blog; BLAW sponsored.
TG: They can ask me to write pieces for BLAW, although they rarely do it.