Cameras in the Supreme Court? The Intersection of the Legislative & Judicial Branches

Recently  Senator Dick Durbin, with co-sponsors Richard Blumenthal, John Cornyn, Chuck Grassley, and Amy Klobuchar, introduced S. 1945,  Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2011, which would require televised proceedings of all open sessions of the United States Supreme Court.  Exceptions, included in the bill,  would be allowed if a majority of the justices voted that the proceedings would violate the due process rights of one of the parties before the Court.  The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts conducted a hearing, listening to testimony from individuals who advocate televising the proceedings.  While the Court does not presently permit cameras in the courtroom, the media has requested televised access for several years.  These pleas have increased since the Court granted certiorari to hear the arguments about the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act  which is scheduled for oral argument this term.   Former Senator Arlen Specter testified at the hearing, dismissing concerns about the separation of powers issues that others argue the bill raises.  Other witnesses disagreed, including Chief Judge Anthony Scirica of the 3rd Circuit and Maureen Mahoney, founder of the appellate practice firm, Latham & Watkins.  Both testified that the Durbin bill raises constitutional issues regarding the separation of powers.

Petitions and briefs have been filed with the Court.

About Lisa Smith-Butler

Associate Professor of Law Charleston School of Law 385 Meeting St., Suite 322B Charleston, S.C. 29403 843.377.2144
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