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Cameras at SCOTUS

Justice David Souter famously said that cameras would come into Supreme Court arguments only if they rolled over his dead body.  When he retired four years ago, camera advocates were heartened by the different position advanced by his designated successor.  However, Sam Baker reports in The Hill:

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she no longer supports bringing cameras into the courtroom, a reversal from comments she made during her confirmation hearings.

Sotomayor told a crowd in New York that allowing television cameras to capture the court's oral arguments would do more harm than good, according to a report in New York magazine.

And in the referenced article, we read her explanation:

"There's no other public official who is required by the nature of their work to completely explain to the public the basis of their decision," she said, when asked about the hotly debated issue by moderator Thane Rosenbaum. "Every Supreme Court decision is rendered with a majority opinion that goes carefully through the analysis of the case and why the end result was reached. Everyone fully explains their views. Looking at oral argument is not going to give you that explanation. Oral argument is the forum in which the judge plays devil's advocate with lawyers."

Oral argument already gets more attention, relative to the other parts of the process, than it deserves, and televising would exacerbate that problem.  The problem that some advocates would play to the cameras rather than the court is one I have discussed on this blog before.  My suggested compromise is in this post, discussing Justice Kagan's second thoughts on the question.

Update:  Tony Mauro has this article at NLJ (free registration required):  "It has happened again. Yet another justice who spoke favorably as a nominee about allowing cameras in the Supreme Court has gone native and now thinks it's a bad idea."

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