Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Televising SCOTUS Arguments: Today's Quotes

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing about the pros and cons of televising U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments, and whether Congress should pass legislation to require televised arguments. Some quotes from the witnesses (in their seating order):
Senator Arlen Specter (served 1981-2011): The justices consider the Court to be "their domain. Well, it's not. It's the public's domain, and it ought to be accessible to the public." 
Thomas Goldstein, SCOTUSblog: Congress "can pass a law constitutionally that requires the justices to [televise arguments] . . . . These are public proceedings." However, the Court's "trajectory" has been toward increased access, and television is "inevitable." As a result, Congress should "not provoke the constitutional controversy of requiring" the Court to televise arguments.
Chief Justice Mark Cady, Iowa Supreme Court: Iowa's high court "streams all of its oral arguments online" and "archive[s] the videos for later viewing [online]." The "experience in Iowa has . . . dispelled the [initial] fears that we had," the "same fears" discussed in today's hearing, because "the justices still maintain control of the courtroom." 
Judge Anthony Scirica, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit: "Each of our three branches of government is responsible for its own deliberations and self-governance. The separation of powers underscores the considerable latitude that should be afforded each branch in determining its own internal procedures. Deciding whether to televise oral arguments at the Supreme Court goes to the heart of how the Court deliberates and conducts its proceedings." 
Maureen Mahoney, Latham & Watkins: "[I]t's all about line drawing, and . . . it's very difficult to know where to draw the lines. But, that's why we need to let the Court draw its own line."
Appellate Daily, Cameras at the Court (previous coverage; my take on the issue)