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C-SPAN Asks Supreme Court to Televise ‘Obamacare’ Arguments

The court has never allowed arguments made before it to be televised.

C-SPAN, the non-profit company that provides video coverage of Congress, federal agencies and national events, is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to allow cameras in the courtroom when it hears arguments in March 2012 over President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.

On Nov. 14, the Supreme Court said will hear challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148), and it has reserved more than five hours on its docket for that case. The court has never allowed arguments made before it to be televised; rather it releases transcripts for every case and audio recordings of high-profile arguments.

However, in a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts—and copied to the other justices—C-SPAN says, “the court’s decision to schedule five-and-half hours of argument indicates the significance of this case. We ask that the court further reflect this particular case’s significance by supplementing your ‘end of the week audiocast’ policy with live TV coverage.”

The letter—signed by Brian Lamb, C-SPAN’s CEO—also says, “We believe the public interest is best served by live television coverage of this particular oral argument. It is a case which affects every American’s life, our economy, and will certainly be an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign.”

“For these reasons, we ask you and your colleagues to set aside any misgivings you have about television in the courtroom in general and permit cameras to televise live this particular argument,” Lamb wrote. In addition, Lamb vowed that C-SPAN’s video equipment would be “unobtrusive and respectful of the process.”