The Senate Judiciary Committee recently voted, 11-7, for legislation that would open Supreme Court arguments to television coverage. Prospects that anyone will be watching Supreme Court arguments on television in the near future are however pretty bleak. Most Republicans on the Judiciary Committee voted no. There is no serious effort in the House of Representatives. Last Friday the Supreme Court turned down a request from C-Span to televise the arguments soon to occur on the health care legislation.
In November, C-SPAN asked the Supreme Court to open its doors to TV cameras — and millions of viewers — for the marathon health care oral arguments that are scheduled March 26-28. “We believe the public interest is best served by live television coverage of this particular oral argument,” Brian P. Lamb, C-SPAN’s chief executive, wrote to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. “It is a case which will affect every American’s life, our economy and will certainly be an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign.” C-SPAN was joined in its request by other news organizations.
On Friday, an Associated Press article said, “The justices have never allowed cameras inside the courtroom and decided not to make an exception for the health care case, despite what the court called ‘extraordinary public interest.’” But there are opponents from quarters that one might not expect. For example, according to a Washington Post opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court should not allow TV cameras in the courtroom. Live coverage of the court proceedings would cause the “solemn” proceedings to deteriorate, the opinion says.
Video of the Judiciary Committee session is available here, via C-SPAN.