For quite some time now, Supreme Court-watchers have been debating whether or not cameras should be allowed in the Supreme Court during oral arguments. In a series of articles published in the University of Michigan Law Review, The Honorable Boyce Martin, Scott Wilcox, Tony Mauro, Kenneth Flaxman and Bruce Peabody each take a look at different aspects of the debate.
The Honorable Boyce Martin, a Circuit Judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, argues that television cameras should be allowed in the courtroom. Martin says that fears of Judicial grandstanding are overblown and reminds us all that reporters are already allowed in the court. He furthers that judges already have pressure to write in quick ‘wordbites’ that are easily re-printed in articles and are even more easily digested by the general public. Martin also believes that the new attention that the Court gets would strengthen it in the long-run.
Christina Whitman does not believe TV cameras should be allowed in the courtroom. Whitman’s main contention is that Oral Arguments are not meant to be overanalyzed and they would invariably treated that way if they were televised.
Tony Mauro takes perhaps the most candid look at the issue. He cites the Justice’s desire to walk around Washington unnoticed. Justices have always had a desire to remain unnoticed in their city and Justice Souter’s mugging a few years ago is unlikely to alleviate that concern.
Scott Wilcox argues that the Court should allow video recordings for archival purposes but not allow television cameras yet. Wilcox acknowledges that TV cameras will eventually enter the courtroom, but allowing video recordings now will hopefully delay the inevitable.
Personally, I think televised oral arguments are inevitable. In this increasingly techno-centric age, the court is becoming more and more archaic with its anti-TV policy. Yes, the court’s televised arguments will be misconstrued by the Daily Show to lampoon the court but the Court will face more serious concerns. I do think the Court will see an increase in grandstanding from lawyers that could have a potentially serious impact on the Court. I can imagine the televised arguments from a major case like Roe v. Wade becoming a place for extremists to voice their opinions in protest. The Justices would have to increase their security personnel and the Court would have to increase its security measures during argument. Televised oral arguments are an inevitable part of this court’s progression, but also not necessarily one that the Court should protest.