Researchers make case for SCOTUS cameras


U.S. Supreme CourtRobert Green and Adam Rosenblatt of research firm Penn Schoen Berland says that the vast majority of Americans favor the use of cameras and mics during oral arguments before the Supreme Court, and note that they would benefit all concerned.

The duo took to the pages of The Hill to note that 93% of likely voters believe that the working of the Court should be more open and transparent; 58% say there is not enough news coverage of the Court’s workings; and 75% said cameras should be present during oral arguments.

They note that the argument against cameras occasionally employed by justices, most recently uttered by Justice Sonya Sotomayor, that citizens would not understand what they are seeing, is actually a strong case in favor of cameras.

In short, Americans should be able to see how the Court works so that they can understand it.

They said a primary reason for allowing cameras would be to demonstrate to the public that the justices operate on a different level then members of Congress. In particular, citizens need to be reassured that the Court is a venue in which the legal merits of the law are considered, not the politics of the law.

Without cameras, argue Green and Rosenblatt, the Court has effectively outsourced reporting on its conduct – leaving it to be labeled by the administration, congress and the media.

Does the Court really need an image makeover? Most definitely. Its approval rating are dismal, with only 5% agreeing that it is doing an excellent job.

RBR-TVBR observation: It’s our Court, and the justices work on our dime. We want to watch them in action.

BTW, it is the very height of condescension to be told by the justices that we couldn’t possibly understand how the court works, and therefore we cannot be allowed to watch the proceedings in real time. We have to live with whatever decision they come up with, whether wise or hare-brained – and we have every right to see just how it was they arrived at their conclusions.

Bottom line – this decision belongs to the American people, not the nine people who serve us. We want this, and we should get it, sooner rather than later.