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Monday, February 02, 2015

Cameras at SCOTUS, again

Lots of new stuff on cameras in SCOTUS. Dahlia Lithwick's Amicus podcast discusses them this week, interviewing Sonja West (Georgia) and RonNell Andersen Jones (BYU), who together do a great job pretty much destroying the anti-cameras arguments. The only thing they did not mention was what I think is the key response to the "people will only hear snippets" argument--people already only hear snippets, but now they read the text and hear it in Nina Totenberg's voice, rather than in Scalia's or Kagan's. John Oliver pretty well demonstrated this in his Supreme Court Dogs segment (after the jump).

Second, Justice Kagan did a Q&A appearance at University of Chicago last weekend, in which she admitted to being "very conflicted" about the issue. The same article indicates that Justice Sotomayor is hardening her position against cameras (despite saying in her confirmation hearing that she had "positive experiences" with cameras while a lower-court judge).

Kagan being "conflicted" about this will not  move the needle at all, for a reason that West and Jones discuss in their Amicus interview--the collegiality norms on the Court mean that, as long as one Justice remains strongly opposed to cameras, the rest of the Justices are never going to push the issue.


Posted by Howard Wasserman on February 2, 2015 at 04:38 PM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Law and Politics | Permalink


Sorry, I meant to say they did nor destroy the arguments against cameras. They offered rebuttals that I did not find persuasive.

Posted by: CHS | Feb 3, 2015 1:32:26 PM

I didn't think they shredded the arguments at all.

Posted by: CHS | Feb 3, 2015 1:24:13 PM

It is passing strange if SOTOMAYOR is "hardening her position against cameras" ... she seems to love them in other contexts like Sesame St.

I listened to the Slate podcast. I might have missed it but it did not really seem to address the fact that SCOTUS already has audio of oral arguments. C-SPAN can but does not play that with little pictures of the people talking (dogs would be cuter), only doing so for a few cases.

What seems at this point to be a personal hobbyhorse of mine -- since no one seems to talk about it when this comes up -- are decision days and perhaps other public events in the courtroom. Why exactly doesn't SCOTUS on its own website not provide audio of opinion announcements? We are left to waiting months for Oyez to release these (including dissents from the bench) & I'm not sure if they are totally complete.

I take the opinion announcements are supposed to be useful summaries geared to the public or someone. Why else spend often over five minutes doing it? Why should only a few people hear these things? I also think it would make sense to provide some coverage of in effect ceremonial events like opening of court, the "oyez oyez" and the like.

But, the opinion announcements really confuses me. I'm talking audio.

Posted by: Joe | Feb 2, 2015 6:16:45 PM

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