Thursday, December 6, 2007

Senate Panel Approves Bill To Televise SCOTUS (Again)

This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee voted out a bill that would permit TV cameras to enter the Supreme Court.
The 11-7 bipartisan vote is the second time the committee has passed such legslation in recent years.
It's part of an attempt by some lawmakers to put pressure on the Supreme Court to be more transparent about its proceedings.
In the previous Congress, the bill never progressed any further and there are currently no plans for it to go to a vote on the Senate floor.
But today's vote at least gave supporters the chance to raise the issue again.
Committee chairman Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said he gave his backing to the bill after Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., declined a request from him and ranking Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvannia to allow cameras access when justices are announcing rulings from the bench.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voiced strong opposition to the move, citing disaproving comments made by several justices.
"They believe the dynamic is harmed by the presence of cameras," she said.
The commmittee is also considering a bill that would televise proceedings before both federal district and appellate courts.
A planned vote didn't go ahead today when sponsor Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, asked for more time to gather support.
UPDATE (6.15pm): A committee spokeswoman says that today's commmittee vote will have to be ratified at next week's meeting.
"To satisfy some committee procedural items ... they will need to ratify the vote next week," she said this evening.


Tom in Houston said...

Seems like an incomplete measure. Why shouldn't federal appeals courts be subject to the same rule? As it is now, a few provide recordered audio files of oral arguments on their websites, but most don't. It is extremely helpful for attorneys like me, in preparing for oral argument, to listen to past oral arguments on similar cases. This benefit does not seem subject to dispute. And don't better prepared advocates incrementally advance the cause of justice?

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