Senate panel addresses electronic SCOTUS coverage


We will be able to watch a Senate Judiciary subcommittee discuss the merits of allowing microphones and television cameras into the Supreme Court to cover its activities. Of course, the same thing could not happen if the Supreme Court were called on to rule on the legislation that might someday originate in that same subcommittee.

The matter will be considered by the Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Court, which is calling the session “Access to the Court: Televising the Supreme Court.” It will be held Tuesday 12/6/11 at 10AM eastern under the gavel of Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

The witnesses include:
* Arlen Specter, Attorney at Law, Philadelphia, PA
* Thomas Goldstein, Partner, Goldstein & Russell, P.C., Washington, DC
* The Honorable Mark Cady, Chief Justice, Iowa Supreme Court,
* The Honorable Anthony Scirica, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Philadelphia, PA
* Maureen Mahoney, Of Counsel, Latham & Watkins LLP, Washington, DC

RBR-TVBR observation: Could this lead to a Washington-style territorial battle in which the legislative branch issues an order to the judiciary, endorsed as it must be by the executive branch, only to have it laid to waste by the judiciary branch declaring the legislation unconstitutional? It’s the stuff of dreams for constitutional attorneys.

Seriously, this is a freedom of the press issue – and involves asking the justices of the Court to acknowledge the century we live in.

Washington DC has been wired for electricity, and its airwaves tamed by broadcasters, for quite some time now. As we have noted before, if the Justices are going to limit images of the court to those produced by archaic means such as transcripts jotted down by stenographers or pictures drawn by sketch artists, then we propose limiting the justices to archaic plumbing facilities.

A few sessions in an outhouse in February, or better yet for those familiar with the Washington climate – August – with personal hygiene amenities no more advanced than a Thomas Paine pamphlet, may soon assist justices resistant to the tools of modern journalism to see the error of their ways.