[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation today to require open proceedings of the Supreme Court to be televised.
The Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2011 would require television coverage of all open sessions of the Court, unless the Court decides, by a vote of the majority of justices, that doing so would constitute a violation of the due process rights of one or more of the parties before the Court. A similar bill was approved by a bipartisan majority of the Judiciary Committee last Congress.
“For too long the American public has been prevented from observing open sessions of the Supreme Court,” Durbin said. “As the final arbiter of constitutionality, the Supreme Court decides the most pressing and often most controversial issues of our time. In a democratic society that values transparency and participation, there can be no valid justification for such a powerful element of government to operate largely outside the view of the American people.”
"Nine Justices have a tremendous amount of influence on the lives of the people of this country, yet people know very little about the highest court in our country. In fact, next year, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about a law that has the potential to impact every American. Allowing cameras in the Supreme Court will help bring much needed transparency to a process that is largely unknown to the American public," Grassley said.
The Cameras in the Courtroom Act only applies to open sessions of the Supreme Court – sessions where members of the public are already invited to observe in person. Public scrutiny of Supreme Court proceedings will produce greater accountability, transparency, and understanding of our judicial system.
A hearing on the Cameras in the Courtroom Act will be held tomorrow in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts. The hearing will be chaired by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and will feature testimony from long time advocate for televised court proceedings, Former Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA). More information on tomorrow’s hearing – including a link to the live webcast - can be found here.
In addition to Senators Durbin and Grassley, the Cameras in the Courtroom Act is cosponsored by Senators Klobuchar, Cornyn (R-TX) and Blumenthal (D-CT).