Multimedia and interactive guides to the U.S. Supreme Court

With President Barack Obama’s recent nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, many are left wondering who are the justices and what exactly it is the Supreme Court. Thanks to the internet, the inner workings of the Court can be explained visually, bringing to life the centuries-old government institution.

In response to news of the nomination, Congressional Quarterly has detailed the sometimes lengthy nomination process in an easy to use interactive bar chart. The stages of each nominee’s confirmation are lined up side-by-side to give the user an idea of the complicated process.

Congressional Quarterly also has a compelling slideshow of the history of Supreme Court nominees that is worth a look. Other news media that have taken the online slideshow approach include the Huffington Post, which showcases photos of Sotomayor’s childhood and family, and Pinko Magazine, which, in a more humorous approach, selects the top 13 television judges Obama should have nominated to the vacant seat.

Earlier this month, the New York Times asked its online readers who they thought should be President Obama’s pick for the court. Visitors were presented with an interactive graphic that contained bios of possible candidates. Readers overwhelmingly chose Sotomayor to replace Justice David Souter after his retirement.

Back in 2005, the Times published a comprehensive interactive graphic of major court decisions and the judges that presided over them that is still relevant today. The information is sortable by year or by issue.

PBS has a wealth of online information about the Supreme Court itself, including a video series that traces the history of the Court back to the early 1800s and a text-based timeline that reviews some of the major court cases. The site also hosts an interactive quiz that questions visitors on the Supreme Court cases that affect our daily lives.

CNN has an entire multimedia package devoted to the Supreme Court and Sotomayor’s nomination, including videos, timelines and a photo of gallery of the eight remaining justices. HowStuffWorks also has several videos that detail the history of the Court.

With all this talk about the inner workings of the Supreme Court, wouldn’t it be better to just to see it for yourself? The Oyez Project, the go-to online resource for all things SCOTUS-related, has virtual tours of the Supreme Court building, the courtroom and the justices’ chambers. The 360° panoramic images are made possible by the internet and are an invaluable inside look that in the pre-internet age could only be described with text.

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