OTHER VOICES

Cameras in the court

Posted Feb. 22, 2012, at 6:28 p.m.

Every good reason for cameras in the courtroom holds true when it comes to our nation’s highest place of jurisprudence, the Supreme Court — and almost none of the arguments against cameras still hold.

It can’t happen too soon.

A bipartisan bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, sponsored by Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa, would require TV coverage of all of the court’s open sessions unless the justices decided by majority vote that it would violate due process rights of those before the panel.

What a wonderful civics lesson this would offer every American: to watch the court’s nine justices probe and parry the law and constitutional principles, their deliberations unfiltered by reporters or transcripts.

Just last month, we wrote in favor of allowing cameras in the lower courts, but we acknowledged drawbacks. Witnesses might hesitate to come forward. Lawyers might showboat. The accused might become celebrities — or pariahs.

But none of this applies to the Supreme Court. No lawyer, under the gaze of nine stern justices, would dare showboat. There would be no witnesses. No accused. Just discussion and debate at the highest level. And if some members of the court struck us as sharper or duller than others, that would be good to see, too.

This is a proposal that deserves to sail through Congress.

Chicago Sun-Times (Feb. 16)

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