Durbin, Quigley Call on Supreme Court to Bring Live Audio to the Courtroom
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), author of the bipartisan Cameras in the Courtroom Act, and U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), Co-Chair of the Transparency Caucus, led a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Chief Justice John Roberts urging the Supreme Court to allow live audio in the chamber in light of the historic nature of the upcoming rulings on same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act.
“Decisions made by the Supreme Court impact the lives of Americans in every corner of the country, but their proceedings often don't reach beyond the four walls of the court room. Over the next several days, the Supreme Court will announce opinions in some of the most closely watched cases in a generation. People of reasonable minds may disagree on the proper outcome of these cases and others, but we can all agree that the American public deserves greater access to the opinions that will shape their society for years to come,” Durbin said.
“Over the course of the next few days, the Supreme Court will announce opinions in closely-watched cases that will impact the lives of millions of individuals and families across America, decisions that will change the course of American history,” said Quigley. “Allowing live audio coverage will give more Americans the ability to closely follow the proceedings as they occur. That is why, along with Senator Durbin, I am urging the Court to provide the American people the opportunity to hear in real time the arguments and opinions that will shape our society for years to come.”
The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Al Franken (D-MN), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representatives Jackie Speier (CA-14), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Jared Polis (CO-02), and David Cicilline (RI-01).
Earlier this year, Durbin was joined by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in introducing legislation to require open proceedings of the Court to be televised. The bipartisan Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2015 would require television coverage of all open sessions of the Court, unless the Court decides, by a majority vote of the Justices, that doing so would constitute a violation of the due process rights of one or more of the parties before the Court. In 2012, the bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan vote of 11-7. The bill was also approved by the Committee on a bipartisan vote of 13-6 in 2010.
Quigley has been advocating for a more open and transparent Supreme Court since his arrival to Washington in 2009. Quigley is the author of the landmark Transparency in Government Act, a wide-ranging good government reform bill that would bring unprecedented access and accountability to the federal government. It also includes a provision requiring the Supreme Court to live-stream audio of its proceedings. Most recently, Quigley led a letter to Chief Justice Roberts urging the Supreme Court to allow video and live audio in the chamber in light of the upcoming same-sex marriage cases. Earlier this year, Quigley hosted a Transparency Caucus briefing titled “Broadcasting Justice: A Discussion about Cameras and Audio in the Supreme Court.” In January, he re-introduced the bipartisan Cameras in the Courtroom Act, requiring the Supreme Court to permit television coverage of all open sessions of the Court. This past year, he authored an opinion piece in the Chicago Sun-Times arguing for real time – live audio recordings during Supreme Court hearings. In 2013, Quigley raised the issue of permitting video transmission of SCOTUS’ public argument sessions directly with two Supreme Court justices during a House Appropriations Committee hearing.
The full text of the letter is available below.
June 23, 2015
Dear Chief Justice Roberts:
Given the historic nature of the Supreme Court’s upcoming rulings on same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act, among other cases, we write to urge the Court to provide the American people with access to live audio of its court proceedings for the first time.
Today, every American has access to many of the proceedings of the legislative and the executive branches of our government through C-SPAN and live streaming online. However, even in 2015, one branch of our government remains almost completely closed from the public eye: the U.S. Supreme Court. People may disagree on the outcome of any given case, but we can all agree that the American public is better served when all three branches of our government are transparent and accessible.
We applaud the Court’s efforts to increase transparency by requiring the release of same-day transcripts and end-of-the-week audio. We are also encouraged by the recent decision to release same-day audio in some limited cases. These efforts demonstrate that the Court has the capability to release live audio. The enhanced transparency that would come from live audio broadcasts of public proceedings would allow people to better understand how our third branch of government operates and more closely track the many important cases that are decided.
We continue to believe that the Court should permit live video broadcasts and support bipartisan legislation to make that happen. We look forward to a debate about the merits of permitting cameras in the Court. In the meantime, the Court should immediately permit live audio broadcasts of its proceedings.
Over the course of the next few weeks, the Court will announce opinions in closely-watched cases that will impact the lives of millions of individuals and families across America. Accordingly, the Court should provide the American people the opportunity to hear in real time the arguments and opinions that will shape our society for years to come.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
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