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A new law could allow cameras at arguments before the Supreme Court to be televised to the public

A new law could allow cameras at arguments before the Supreme Court to be televised to the public


Wikimedia Joe Ravi

A new law could allow arguments before the Supreme Court to be televised to the public. A bipartisan bill to stream supreme Court events in real- time has been introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL). The bill would require the Supreme Court to broadcast its open court sessions live on television was revived on Thursday by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a prominent Republican senator.

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Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chair of the judiciary committee, argued in favor of the bill by pointing to the public’s declining trust in the Supreme Court following recent contentious decisions on abortion and gun control.

The proposed legislation would require live television coverage of Supreme Court hearings unless a majority of the court’s nine justices found that doing so would violate a party’s right to due process.

In the past, the public has only been permitted to attend Supreme Court proceedings in person and on a first-come, first-served basis. Along with the millions of other Americans who still should be able to see and hear these discussions on issues at the forefront of government, those who weren’t fortunate enough to get a seat in the Courtroom in the past had to settle for reading transcripts, listening to audio recordings that were later released, or waiting for secondhand accounts from reporters.

The legislation, which advanced out of the Judiciary Committee last Congress on a bipartisan 15-7 vote, would require the Supreme Court to permit television coverage of all open Court sessions, unless the Court decides by a majority vote of Justices that television coverage would violate due process rights of a party before the Court.  Today’s bill introduction coincides with National Sunshine Week, which seeks to educate the public about the importance of open government.

“Rulings made by Justices in our nation’s highest court impact the lives of every American, regardless of zip code. We see an ever-apparent interest for the American people to be able to witness the highest court’s proceedings, from seemingly routine sessions to oral arguments in high-profile cases like Dobbs and Bruen, for example. As trust in the Supreme Court hovers near all-time lows, shining a light into the Supreme Court chamber would increase transparency, strengthen democracy, and help inform Americans of issues at the forefront of their government. I thank Senator Grassley for his continued partnership on this bipartisan cause,” said Durbin.

“The judicial branch has a massive impact on our daily lives and the lives of generations to come, yet few Americans ever get the chance to see inside the legal process,” Grassley said. “Allowing cameras access to Supreme Court would be a victory for transparency and would help the American people grow in confidence and understanding of the judiciary.”

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U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) also co-sponsored the legislation.

This bill is also accompanied by the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act in introduction, led by Grassley and Klobuchar and co-sponsored by Durbin. Also advanced by the Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan vote last Congress, the bill would permit coverage of all open federal court proceedings beyond just the Supreme Court.

Information from this article was sourced from The US Senate Committee on The Judiciary

On a bipartisan vote of 15-7, the Judiciary Committee adopted the legislation in 2021. Yet, it did not make much progress in Congress.

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