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Will We Get to Watch the Supremes on TV?

The Supreme Court is a fancy place. They do things with a strong sense of tradition and that most definitely applies to how they hand down their opinions and what information is made available to the public. It is relatively recently that they began releasing time-delayed audio recordings of oral arguments. Television cameras remain a no-no. I suppose the idea is that they want to be able to hear cases and deliberate without feeling scrutinized. Introducing the real-time effect of television could produce some sort of Hawthorne Effect. If the Justices know that America’s watching, perhaps they’re worried that they’ll rule differently than they otherwise would.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I believe in preserving traditional institutions, and I don’t think that anything and everything needs to be televised. On the other hand, the outcome of this case has the potential to affect many Americans who are unlikely to ever read a majority opinion from the Court, but would certainly catch snippets on the tube.

Perhaps that’s why so many groups are asking the Court to allow television cameras in the courtroom for the first time. There’s the Association of Health Care Journalists, C-SPAN, the Radio Television Digital News Association, the New York Times, and most interestingly, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. My hunch is that their requests will be denied, but I hope I’m wrong, because I’d watch this case around the clock like it was the Casey Anthony trial.

 

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