Gavel Grab

Middle Ground Urged on TV Cameras at Supreme Court

There might be a middle way to move the Supreme Court toward allowing TV cameras in its courtroom, a witness told a Senate panel holding a hearing on the topic.

Tom Goldstein, the publisher of SCOTUSblog and a lawyer who has argued before the court, was suggesting a route that would thread a compromise between those who advocate Supreme Court transparency and those who say action by Congress could trample on the court’s autonomy.

“One compelling thing that [Congress] could do is to pass a unanimous resolution urging the court to do it, to give them a sense of what the senators pointed to as the great public interest in televised proceedings,” he said, according to a US News & World Report article. “But with no promises, ultimately, that the legislation would be upheld.”

Televising hearings before the high court isn’t a new idea, but it’s gotten a burst of attention since the court agreed to take up a challenge to the new federal health care law — and C-SPAN asked to televise the five and a half hour proceeding. The Senate hearing was held on a bill filed this week to require the court to allow televised proceedings (see Gavel Grab).

Goldstein praised the justices, saying  “they are practically the only people in Washington trying not to get on camera,” according to an ABC News report.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chaired the hearing by  the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on administrative oversight and the courts. Klobuchar told the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog she didn’t agree with critics’ argument that cameras would change the way Supreme Court justices go about their work.

“I was trying to picture Ruth Bader Ginsburg turning into Judge Judy,” she said at the hearing. “It’s not going to happen.”

To read more about cameras in the courtroom, check out Gavel Grab. To watch a video of the hearing, click on this link from the WSJ’s Law Blog.

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