Smile Justice Scalia, You May Be On Camera

Members of the new congress have already introduced legislation that would pave the way for cameras in the Supreme Court. The bill is noteworthy for the simple reason that it has as Democrat and Republican co-sponsor. And while I suppose that this is not exactly as momentous as the “fiscal cliff”, we should not be too quick to dismiss the importance of this legislation. The Supreme Court is the final word on some of the most momentous decisions our government makes. In the coming term, for example, it is expected to rule on gay marriage. And yet, for the most part, the public is shut out from watching the oral arguments. The Supreme Court courtroom seats about 50 spectators. The practice may have made sense when cameras were the size of small space ships, but given today’s technology, that excuse doesn’t cut it. I’ve argued cases in the Ohio and Kentucky Supreme Courts, both of whom do live streaming of oral arguments, and the cameras are tiny. Oh, and take a look at any oral argument on the Ohio Supreme Court Web site and tell me if you see any lawyers grandstanding for the cameras. I doubt it. That ridiculous notion is also an excuse for not allowing cameras. I know Justice Scalia:

is opposed to the ideaon the ground that cameras would “miseducate” the public. Is that a word? And given that Justice Scalia seems unable to see a difference between violent video games depicting dismemberment and decapitation and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, it is fair to wonder if he is, you know, the most reasonable voice on this issue. Let’s hope this legislation passes. I am willing to risk a little “miseducation” for a lot of transparency.