Federal Courts and Nominations

TV ad campaign calls for cameras in the Supreme Court

By Caroline May


An advocacy group seeking more transparency in the Supreme Court is taking its cause for cameras in the high court to television.


The Coalition for Court Transparency revealed their new 30-second commercial Tuesday, which will play for Washington, D.C. cable audiences over the coming week.


According to the coalition — which is composed of groups such as the American Society of News Editors, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Press Foundation, the National Press Photographers Association, the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Society for Professional Journalists, the Alliance for Justice, the Constitutional Accountability Center, the Liberty Coalition, and OpenTheGovernment.org — using television ads to push for cameras in the court is “unprecedented.”


“The Supreme Court’s decisions impact the lives of Americans everywhere,” the narrator in a new ad from the Coalition for Court Transparency says. “But only a privileged few get to witness history and see justice in action.”


“Leading Republicans and Democrats and a large majority of Americans support a simple fix – putting cameras in the Supreme Court,” it continues. “State and federal courts allow cameras in the interest of transparency. Shouldn’t our nation’s top court do the same? It’s time for a more open judiciary. It’s time for cameras in the Supreme Court.”


The alliance laments that there are only about 250 seats in the courtroom and so many people affected by the court’s decisions the proceedings should be televised.


“The idea that such a fundamental function of our judiciary is hidden from the vast majority of the American public does not comport with 21st century expectations of transparency, no matter what your political leaning,” Michael Ostrolenk, co-founder and national director of the Liberty Coalition, a coalition member, said in a statement. “At a time when the public’s confidence in the Supreme Court is eroding, and skepticism in secretive government institutions is high, putting cameras in the Court would be a simple way to help restore the Court’s image.”


And while the groups push publicly for cameras in the courtroom — including offering a petition for people to sign — there have been legislative efforts aimed at televising the Supreme Court for nearly 15 years. To date, none have become law.

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