Camera-Shy Supreme Court Assailed For Keeping Most Observers Out


The drumbeat continues on what the Washington Post’s Al Kamen calls “the Supreme Court's arrogant refusal to allow the people who pay the justices' salaries to watch them at work.” Despite decades of entreaties by news organizations and open-government groups, the justices still won't permit cameras to record at least the most obviously important cases before it, including yesterday’s arguments on same-sex marriage. Senators Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) took to Twitter to blast the camera-shy court. Leahy, in a series of tweets, said that “Americans should not have to camp out for days” to watch historic arguments.

He noted that most folks “can't afford to spend $6000 for “linestanding,” a reference to companies that offer to secure you one of the coveted few hundred seats available for the public. Those companies send people, often several days in advance, to camp out at the high court and hold a spot for you. The court released audio recording of the arguments so those who recognize the justices' voices will be able to figure out who asked what questions. Last year, HBO's John Oliver tried to help with that by using canine reenactments. Kamen, who formerly covered the court, says it is safe to say that if cameras were allowed in, “The public would be most impressed, perhaps even reassured, if they could see the high court in action.”

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