Thursday, April 6, 2006

Televising the Supreme Court
Mike Rappaport

The Wall Street Journal Law blog reports:

When the issue of televising the Court’s proceedings was raised [by a congressional committee], Justice Kennedy said it raised a “sensitive point” about the constitutional separation of powers and that it wasn’t for Congress to decide. He said: “We feel very strongly that we have intimate knowledge of the dynamics and the mood of the court, and we think that proposals mandating and directing television in our court are inconsistent with the deference and etiquette that should apply between the branches.”

Justice Thomas echoed Justice Kennedy’s concerns, adding that TV could change the nature of the decision-making process. “It runs the risk of undermining the manner in which we consider cases,” he said. He also said that broadcasting Court sessions would raise security concerns — “as members of the court who now have some degree of anonymity would lose their anonymity.”

I don't know if I support televising Supreme Court arguments, but I find these justices' answers so annoying, I would be tempted to pass a law requiring the televising of arguments  out of spite. 

They don't want publicity.  Who cares what they want? They exercise power; lots of people in the public spotlight don't want publicity either. They feel "very strongly that [they] have intimate knowledge of the dynamics and the mood of the court."  What arrogance!  Roll Those Cameras!

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Televising the Supreme Court
Mike Rappaport


Agreed; I suspect this is actually a case of the sausage makers not wanting their customers to see the product made, because if they knew what went into it, they wouldn't eat it.

Maybe they shouldn't eat it...

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Apr 6, 2006 3:23:21 AM

I agree with the sausage analogy, but on the other hand am sympathetic to the separation of powers concerns. Congress should no more run the Supreme Court than the Supreme Court adopt procedural rules for the Senate.

Posted by: Corkie the Dog | Apr 6, 2006 8:32:27 AM

The Sausage Maker analogy really doesn't apply. Arguments before the Supreme Court are performed by brilliant, extremely well-prepared lawyers and the arguments are based on facts, the law and precdent. At least that is what I have witnessed. The argument that 'horse trading' or 'sausage making' happens during oral arguments simply doesn't hold any water. Arguments before the Court are a very dignified experience. Besides they are audibly recorded (and I think, transcribed)..

But that is not to say that these hearing shouldn't be televised. Decorum? Is the Supreme Court really that afraid that lawyers will start grandstanding in order to get a 5 second soundbite on CBS Evening New with Katie Couric?

These Justices wield extreme power and the way that power is exercised is something that should be viewable be anyone in this democracy. I haven't been able to imagine any arguments that favor limiting access to what is an otherwise open and audibly recorded proceeding.

Posted by: David C. Brayton | Apr 6, 2006 11:19:49 AM