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Tags: supremecourt | senate | panel | bills

Senate Panel OKs Televised Supreme Court Hearings

Senate Panel OKs Televised Supreme Court Hearings
A view of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 13 July 2021 04:12 PM

The Senate Judiciary Committee in late June approved bipartisan bills that would force the high court to televise oral arguments and opinion announcements, “unless the Court decides, by a vote of the majority of justices, that allowing such coverage in a particular case would constitute a violation of the due process rights of 1 or more of the parties before the Court," a move that suggests both bills may have a chance of passage on the Senate floor.

Four Republicans voted for the bills, which passed the committee 15-7.

The Supreme Court has always barred cameras in the courtroom for proceedings. The world learns of case outcomes when couriers for news organizations sprint the decision to reporters and news outlets waiting outside the building.

Lawmakers have tried for years to pass a bill that would allow camera use in the federal courts, dating back to 1937.

"I've been years trying to get it done. And I hope now the time has arrived," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. "I do believe that better understanding of all the three branches of government is very, very important. And the only one that people know least about is the judicial branch."

Grassley cited the televised guilty verdict of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

"I think when you have greater transparency, you have more accountability," said Grassley.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has argued against it.

“There’s an interest in the American people having access to and being able to see the workings of our branches of government,” said Cruz, who clerked for the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Cameras could “overly politicize” the High Court, he said.

“You would see the lawyers for both sides behaving differently.”

"There is a reason that virtually every Supreme Court justice opposes this. And I would point out that that view is not a partisan view. It's not the Republican nominees oppose this," added Cruz, arguing that televised proceedings would "mis-educate the American people."

Longtime Supreme Court observer Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog wrote justices wouldn’t take kindly to theatrics.

"One of the (arguments against cameras) has been the idea of grandstanding. That you’ve have these sort of ‘My Cousin Vinny’-style monologues in which lawyers would be performing, not for the judge or making their arguments to the justices. But instead, looking for sound bytes that would be picked up for the evening news," she said.

(Justices) “may well chastise a lawyer who tried to do that. That’s going to be something that would carry with a lawyer and have a kind of reputational sanction. That might make it harder for someone to get hired for future Supreme Court cases."

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Politics
The Senate Judiciary Committee in late June approved bipartisan bills that would force the high court to televise oral arguments and opinion announcements...
supremecourt, senate, panel, bills
441
2021-12-13
Tuesday, 13 July 2021 04:12 PM
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