The Senate Judiciary Committee, under the gavel of Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has voted 11-7 to allow television coverage of Supreme Court proceedings. The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) still has a long way to go to become a law – it still awaits a markup date in the House of Representatives.
Leahy said the impetus behind the action on the bill lay in the upcoming deliberations on the Affordable Care Act – Leahy believes that citizens have a lot at stake in the case, and believes they have a right to see it as it happens.
“Next month, the Supreme Court will begin several days of oral arguments on challenges to the Affordable Care Act,” said Leahy. “This important case will decide whether the people’s elected officials have the power under our Constitution to enact legislation regulating the health insurance market, to make health care more affordable, to hold insurers more accountable, to expand coverage to all Americans, and to make our health care system more sustainable.”
He continued, “The Supreme Court’s decision will impact all Americans and so it is no surprise that there is tremendous public interest in witnessing these historic arguments. Although Supreme Court proceedings are technically open to the public, I am concerned that only a few dozen members of the general public, who can take time off work to stand in line overnight, will be allowed to witness the proceedings. The Court does not even provide live audio streaming of its public proceedings to provide real-time public access. The American public is keenly interested in whether requiring all Americans to be insured, which was a Republican idea, will be upheld. Despite our public and private outreach to the Supreme Court, there is, as yet, no indication that those proceedings will be made widely available to the American public on the days of argument.”
According to The Hill, the Supreme Court ACC hearings are scheduled for the end of March. It is not expected that this bill can make it to the Oval Office for a presidential autograph by then.