Report: Sotomayor Says Cameras in Court Could Do More Harm Than Good
Tells crowd cameras would not capture full picture of what is going on
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/8/2013 10:11:06 AM
"I think the process could be more misleading than helpful," she said in an event in New York promoting her new book, according to the magazine. "It's like reading tea leaves. I think if people analyzed it, it is true that in almost every argument you can find a hint of what every judge would rule. But most justices are actually probing all the arguments...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."
That is a retrenchment somewhat from her brief statement in her confirmation hearing that she had had positive experiences with cameras in the court tests before joining the high court.
There is no consensus on the court on the issue, with opinions ranging from Antonin Scalia's strong opposition, to Justice Elena Kagan's enthusiastic support. Sotomayor was sounding more like she was moving toward the Scalia camp. He has said that he thinks cameras would distort, not illuminate, the court's work via clips that do not represent the sometimes "dull, lawyerly stuff" that goes into the process. For every person who watched coverage gavel-to-gavel, he has said, "there would be 100,000 who would watch a 15-second take-out from the C-SPAN feed. And I guarantee you that the 15-second take-out would not be characteristic of what we do. It would be man bites dog, so why should I participate in the miseducation of the American people?"
The Justice's public statements on cameras are available here.
I had the opportunity to deal with this issue actually in relation to my own court a number of years ago. All the courts of appeals were given the authority to allow their oral arguments to be televised if it wanted. We had a debate within our court about whether we would or should allow television cameras in our courtroom. I argued that we should do it…The issue is a little different in the Supreme Court. It would be presumptuous for me to talk about it right now, particularly since at least one of the justices have said that a television camera would make its way into the Supreme Court over his dead body. I will keep an open mind despite the decision I took in the third circuit.
Watson John - Dublin Solicitor - 3/15/2013 3:06:29 AM EDT
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