Federal Courts and Nominations

Public Wants Video in U.S. Supreme Court, Poll Shows

By Tony Mauro


Nearly three-quarters of the public wants the U.S. Supreme Court to allow video broadcast of its proceedings, according to a poll released Wednesday.


Seventy-four percent of the respondents favored live camera access and 72 percent said the court should at least allow the audio broadcast of oral arguments and other public court proceedings. McLaughlin & Associates surveyed 1,000 likely voters for the poll, commissioned by the Coalition for Court Transparency, a group of media and public interest organizations.


The poll was released a day after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit allowed live streaming of the video of oral argument in ACLU v. Clapper, a high-profile case challenging the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records.


The survey found strong support for other transparency measures. Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said Supreme Court justices should abide by the same code of conduct that lower federal court judges follow. Sixty-nine percent said the justices should post their financial disclosure forms online, as top officials of the executive and legislative branches already do.


The high court got low marks in other poll questions. Thirty-five percent gave the court a positive rating for its job performance, and 59 percent gave negative ratings. Fifty-four percent said the court’s rulings are often influenced by justices’ personal or political views.


In announcing the survey results, coalition members offered comments on the transparency issues assessed by the poll. “In a country governed by the rule of law, citizens have the right to see that law being debated,” said Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. “Given the paralysis and rancor among our other branches of government, the justices should seize this moment and allow some sunlight into their courtroom.”


Michael Ostrolenk, chairman of the Liberty Coalition, said, “It’s almost unbelievable that three-fourths of Americans agree on anything tangentially political these days, but we’re seeing the same results on cameras in the court, across party lines, in poll after poll. The American people expect greater transparency from their public officials, and while recent focus has been on the executive branch’s obfuscation, the Supreme Court finds itself in a co-equal position of opaqueness. Broadcasting court hearings would help reverse that trend.”

More from Federal Courts and Nominations

Federal Courts and Nominations
January 17, 2024

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Sign-On Letter Prioritizing Diverse Judges

Dear Senator, On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the...
Federal Courts and Nominations
July 31, 2023

Liberal justices earn praise for ‘independence’ on Supreme Court, but Thomas truly stands alone, expert says

Fox News
Some democrats compare Justice Clarence Thomas to ‘Uncle Tom’ and house slave in ‘Django Unchained’
By: Elizabeth B. Wydra, By Brianna Herlihy
Federal Courts and Nominations
July 7, 2023

In Her First Term, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson ‘Came to Play’

The New York Times
From her first week on the Supreme Court bench in October to the final day...
By: Elizabeth B. Wydra, by Adam Liptak
Federal Courts and Nominations
July 8, 2023

The Supreme Court’s continuing march to the right

Major legal rulings that dismantled the use of race in college admissions, undermined protections for...
By: Elizabeth B. Wydra, by Tierney Sneed
Federal Courts and Nominations
June 25, 2023

Federal judge defends Clarence Thomas in new book, rejects ‘pot shots’ at Supreme Court

A federal appeals court judge previously on short lists for the Supreme Court is taking the rare...
By: Elizabeth B. Wydra
Federal Courts and Nominations
May 1, 2023

Supreme Court, done with arguments, turns to decisions

Roll Call
The justices have released opinions at a slow rate this term, and many of the...
By: Brianne J. Gorod, By Michael Macagnone