New GAO Report Highlights Value of Broadcasting Supreme Court and Appellate Court Proceedings

Co-authors of bipartisan bill to require broadcast of high court proceedings requested study

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) released the following statement on a newly released Government Accountability Office report on video and audio coverage of Supreme Court and other appellate court proceedings. The report cites stakeholders who state that the benefits of such coverage include enhancing public access to the courts, educating the public on the judiciary, and providing a useful window into how courts think about the issues in a case. Some of the stakeholders interviewed for the report also raised concerns that coverage of portions of a court’s proceedings may be distorted by the media.
“The Supreme Court is the final decision maker on many of the most important issues of our time, yet all but a select few Americans will ever see the court in action,” said Durbin and Quigley. “While people may certainly disagree on the outcomes of court rulings, the American people deserve the opportunity to see the public proceedings of our highest court. That’s why we called for this report—its findings provide support for the principle of our bill, which would require that the Supreme Court's public proceedings be televised, just like Congress. Moreover, the chief concern raised by the report, that court proceedings could potentially be distorted by the media, further underscores the need to let the American people see these proceedings for themselves.”
You can read the full report here:
The bipartisan Cameras in the Courtroom Act, sponsored by Durbin and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in the Senate and Quigley in the House, only applies to open sessions of the Supreme Court—sessions where members of the public are already invited to observe in person, but often cannot because there are a very limited number of unreserved seats in the courtroom. The bill would allow public scrutiny of Supreme Court proceedings in order to produce greater accountability, transparency, and understanding of our judicial system.
In 2012, the bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan vote of 11-7, and in 2010 on a bipartisan vote of 13-6.