Gavel Grab

Senate Panel Endorses Cameras in Supreme Court

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-7 in favor of bill that would permit the televising of Supreme Court proceedings.  The bill states that the Supreme Court “shall permit television coverage of all open sessions of the Court unless the Court decides, by a vote of the majority of justices, that allowing such coverage in a particular case would constitute a violation of the due process rights of 1 or more of the parties before the Court.”

Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) started the meeting by stating that the bill was designed for better transparency for the American people:

“We have the power to use technology to allow greater access to public proceedings of the Government so that all Americans can witness the quality of justice in this country.”

Leahy argued that technology would deepen public understanding of the Court, and televising the proceedings would grant “access to the government for the people.” He also mentioned that Congress has been televised for 25 years, and most state courts have welcomed the use of cameras.

Other senators described how only 250 people at any time may sit in on Supreme Court oral arguments. They said the vast majority of Americans cannot travel to Washington to see court proceedings. Among opponents, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.) voiced concern that the justices and attorneys might “perform” in front of TV cameras. She stated that the Senate should respect the Supreme Court as a separate branch of government, and not tell it what to do.

With the Senate committee’s approval, both houses of Congress are slated to vote on the bill, according to LegalNewsline.com.

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