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Supreme Court: Must-see TV?

New bill allows cameras into proceedings

Supreme Court TV: It could happen.

Late last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would force the nation’s highest court to allow television cameras in to cover open proceedings.

The bill stipulates that if a majority of the justices believe the cameras would violate the due process rights of any of the litigants in a particular case, cameras would be barred — as they have been since the advent of television.

Otherwise, “The legislation will open the Supreme Court’s doors so that more Americans can see the process by which the court reaches critical decisions of law that affect this country and everyday Americans,” according to the committee’s written announcement.

“The Supreme Court makes pronouncements on constitutional and federal law that have direct impacts on the rights of Americans,” said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.), the committee’s ranking member, in the announcement. “Those rights would be substantially enhanced by televising the oral arguments of the court so that the public can see and hear the issues presented. With this information, the public would have insight into key issues and be better equipped to understand the impact of and reasons for the court’s decisions.”

The bipartisan bill, now awaiting attention from the full Senate, is co-sponsored by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

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