Erwin Chemerinsky and Eric J. Segall—The Supreme Court should lift its TV blackout
Why the U.S. Supreme Court continues to hold its oral arguments away from television cameras remains a mystery and a national shame. On Monday, the court will begin hearing six hours of arguments over three days in a lawsuit brought by more than half of the states in the nation to challenge the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, one of the most important pieces of economic legislation passed by Congress since the New Deal. The stakes of the litigation could not be higher. How the court rules is likely to affect healthcare in this country for generations and could even affect the outcome of the presidential election.
Who will get to witness this historical event? Only the justices, the lawyers, a few reporters and 250 lucky individuals whose tenacity and financial ability will allow them to camp out in front of the court — perhaps for days — before the hearing begins. The court has said it will provide same-day (not live) audio coverage of the oral arguments. There will be no television at all, not even on tape.
We should be outraged by this decision....
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch
Law & Legal Issues
Movies & Television
Posted March 23, 2012 at 5:00 am
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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/41876/
1. Br. Michael wrote:
Courts make news, but they do not exist to provide entertainments. They exist for a serious purpose. Cameras have no place in a court of law. Keep them out.
March 23, 6:31 am | [comment link]
2. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:
When you observe the grandstanding that has come to characterize Congress since the introduction of television cameras, it becomes obvious there is no place for them in court, let alone the Supreme Court.
March 23, 7:53 am | [comment link]
3. BlueOntario wrote:
The Instant Gratification Generation cries out for more.
March 23, 8:50 am | [comment link]
4. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:
Seriously? Do they really want the Supreme Court to start behaving with all the grand standing antics of the OJ Simpson trial or Judge Judy? Every public venue I can think of, from local televised County Commission meetings to US Presidential Debates to C-SPAN coverage of the floor of the US Senate has led to a degradation of statesmanship and civility.
I think the best thing the country could possibly do would be to eliminate TV coverage of the US Congress. Other than a State of the Union address, when was the last time you remember seeing more than like 2 people sitting in the assigned chairs when a debate was actually going on on the floor of the House or Senate? Senators and Representatives just sit in their comfy offices with lobbyists whistling poison in their ears and only appear on the floor when they are presenting or voting. It has completely shortchanged both the idea of the filibuster as well as simple open dialogue and debate. Maybe if the majority of congressmen actually had to be on the floor to know what was going on, more meaningful (and shorter) legislation might be produced.
March 23, 9:35 am | [comment link]
5. Pb wrote:
One of the problems with the legal system is that it is judged by a few anecdotal cases. TV is already in thousands of trials in the state courts and it is controlled by court rules. Lance Ito and Judge Judy are not representitive of the system. I think the public should hear the great issues debated since the supreme court affects their lives as much as congress. As a judge, I have lived with TV in court for over 20 years.
March 23, 10:30 am | [comment link]
6. David Keller wrote:
#5—I think it should be televised for two reasons. First, the pillars of our Republic should not operate in secret, but should be open for all to see—the good, the bad and the ugly. Second, I suspect the average person has no clue what a Supreme Court argument is really like. When I was younger I tolerated well the give and take banter of oral argument; but now, after having been in practice for over 30 years, I hate going to the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court because it is like being a law student all over again, being lorded over by all-powerful professors. I think most people would be shocked to actually see it, and most would also be bored to death. The reality of day-to-day law practice has very little to do with any televison show or movie ever produced. And the often esoteric nature of oral argument is does not lend itself to theater.
March 23, 10:57 am | [comment link]
7. Adam 12 wrote:
A transcript is fine. Video would find its way into political commercials and reduce the dignity of the court.
March 23, 11:02 am | [comment link]
8. Emerson Champion wrote:
“National shame?” Please.
March 23, 11:30 am | [comment link]
9. Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:
No. 8, I was wondering that myself. I think that we should be proud that we have at least one branch of government that still sees fit not to prostitute itself to the masses.
March 23, 1:35 pm | [comment link]
10. Jim the Puritan wrote:
Very bad idea. I can tell you as a lawyer that if TV cameras are in the courtroom, everyone starts playing to the cameras. Especially true for large public policy cases such as the Supreme Court often handles. It will politicize the whole oral argument process.
March 23, 3:24 pm | [comment link]
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