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November 21, 2011

Might the health care litigation finally get SCOTUS to open up to cameras?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this commentary at Time by Andrew Cohen, which is titled "Why Won’t The Supreme Court Allow TV Cameras?."  Here is how it begins:

When the Supreme Court hears the constitutional challenge to President Obama’s health care program, the American people will be watching.  Well, make that: they should be watching, but they won’t be able to. We live in a media-saturated age, but the Supreme Court remains a camera-free zone.

C-SPAN wrote to the court last week asking for permission to televise the health care case.  C-SPAN would air the arguments itself and make the video available to other media outlets.  After many years of saying no to requests like this one, it is time for the Justices to say yes.

Not only do I agree that the health care SCOTUS arguments should be televised, I strongly believe that all Supreme Court arguments should be recorded on video.  I am not merely a strong advocate in transparency in this context, but I also believe that recorded SCOTUS arguments would make an incredible resource for law students and law schools both in real time and for history.  It would be amazing (and amazingly useful) if law schools could live-stream SCOTUS arguments and then have class discussions about Justices' questions and the lawyers' advocacy.

I am hopeful (though not yet optimistic) that the Justices will come to recognize not only the importance of allowing cameras to cover the health care arguments, but also will thereafter appreciate the potential benefits of having all the Court's arguments recorded.

November 21, 2011 at 10:49 AM | Permalink


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The only reason for TV is for attorneys to sway public opinion. The transcripts are released within hours and anyone can read them if they are interested. Other organizations make and release tapes reenacting the transcripts. There's no valid reason to allow TVs in scotus, or other courts for that matter -- As long as some members of the public and some media get to observe the proceedings live.

Posted by: DeanO | Nov 21, 2011 9:02:55 PM

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