Justice Sonia Sotomayor said this week that she thinks
televising Supreme Court oral arguments might do more harm than good, according
to New York Magazine.
"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 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
The Justice's public statements on cameras are available here.