Gavel Grab

Washington Post: Permit Televising of Health Care Arguments

Another leading national newspaper is urging the Supreme Court to permit televising of oral arguments in March over a challenge to the new federal health care law. The case “would be a fitting vehicle for the court’s first televised argument,” a Washington Post editorial said.

A New York Times editorial recently took a similar tack, urging the high court to let C-SPAN broadcast the five-and-a-half hours scheduled for oral argument next year (see Gavel Grab).

The Post editorial rejects reasons raised by justices on the high court for opposing a broadcast, including a potential disruption of decorum, providing an opportunity for attorneys or even justices to “ham it up,” or risking personal security for the justices by making them more recognizable to citizens. The editorial responds:

“These are not arguments for banning cameras; they are arguments for banning virtually all coverage of the court and the justices. No reasonable person would accept that.”

The editorial also offers other proposals for permitting media coverage of the monumental case, in event the court declined a live broadcast:

“If a live broadcast is objectionable, the justices should allow the proceedings to be taped for broadcast later. And if that’s too much, the justices at least should permit live audio broadcast of the argument or, as they have done with other high-profile cases in recent years, agree to a same-day release of the audio recording of the proceedings. The fortunate few who are able to secure seats in the courtroom should not be the only witnesses to history.”

Meanwhile a commentary in the Salt Lake Tribune by former reporter Joel Campbell was headlined “Cameras in courtroom foster judicial credibility”

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