Supremes asked to put health care review on the air


The Radio Television Digital News Association and Congress’s electronic chronicler C-SPAN are asking the Supreme Court to allow cameras and microphones in the room when it hears a challenge to the health care reforms put in place by the administration of President Barack Obama. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) also made the request.

RTDNA Chairman Kevin Benz fired off a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts making the request. “On behalf of the more than 3,000 members of the Radio Television Digital News Association, I am writing to ask the Court for permission to provide pooled television and audio coverage of the oral arguments in this case scheduled for next March. Health care overhaul has divided the nation since it was signed into law. The Court’s ruling undoubtedly will shape the 2012 presidential campaign and most certainly will serve to define Congress’ ability to address national issues. There is no better time than in anticipation of this watershed case for the Supreme Court justices to suspend the ban on cameras in the courtroom and to allow live electronic coverage of this and other proceedings of keen interest and  import to the American public.”

He continued, “Public exposure of the processes of government is virtually always in the public’s best interest. In an era of perceived partisanship, our nation’s citizenship may view the justices’ votes as cast according to their personal and political preferences rather than as objective interpretations of the law.  Permitting broadcast of Supreme Court appeals, on the other hand, will further the interest of justice, enhance public understanding of the judicial system, and maintain a high level of public confidence in the judiciary and in our democratic processes.”

C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb made the same basic case in his own letter to Roberts, according to The Hill. He said that live electronic coverage of the proceedings was certainly in the public interest.

Pelosi backed both organizations, saying “Today, I join my colleague Senator Grassley in a bipartisan call for the Supreme Court proceedings on the Affordable Care Act to be publicly available through real-time video and audio. When the Affordable Care Act is placed before the highest court in our country, all Americans will have a stake in the debate; therefore, all Americans should have access to it. Openness and transparency are essential to the success of our democracy, and in this historic debate, we must ensure the ability of our citizens to take part.”