SCOTUS camera bill resurfaces

January 16, 2017 04:45

By Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director
 
The new Congress will have another opportunity to mandate cameras in the Supreme Court—although, if passed, the bill would provide those cameras to be excluded in a particular case if a majority of justices deemed it necessary to preserve due process rights.

Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Ted Poe (R-Texas) have reintroduced the Cameras in the Court Act. Its language is simple: “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 one or more of the parties before the Court.”

RTDNA has long-argued for camera access in all U.S. courts, including our nation’s highest. We support any effort, including this one, to further that goal. Most state courts have rules in place permitting at least some degree of video and photographic coverage, however repeated efforts by this organization and other journalism groups have been met with a brick wall when it comes to similar permissions in the high court.

“Our nation’s highest court is not some ‘mystical priesthood’ that can operate outside of the public view, Connolly said. His co-sponsor, Ted Poe, who is a former Texas criminal court judge said, “It is time to give the American public the opportunity to see the most important court in the world in action.”

Gabe Roth of the non-partisan group, Fix The Court, which supports more disclosure by Supreme Court justices on a number of fronts, said in a statement, “At a time when every aspect of our lives can be filmed and uploaded for the world to see, only through video recording can the Supreme Court achieve a level of transparency that the public fully trusts.”

RTDNA calls on the 115th Congress to give this bill a full and fair hearing with the hope that Speaker Paul Ryan will put it to a vote. Americans deserve to see for themselves the history-making arguments that are made before our Supreme Court.