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Senators Push for Video in U.S. Supreme Court

'...over my dead body.'

WASHINGTON — Two U.S. senators have introduced legislation to require the U.S. Supreme Court to install video cameras to show the judges in action. Until now, only audio recordings have been made of legal presentations at the Supreme Court, and even that is not always available.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) recently announced legislation that would put video cameras in all open sessions at the Supreme Court, unless the justices had a majority vote that the video feed would violate due process or other legal concern.

The two senators said that an inside view of the Supreme Court in action would give citizens a better understanding of how the court works and why the court rules a certain way on legal issues. Critics are concerned that having cameras in the room will skew the proceedings, as lawyers and justices “play” to the cameras. There is also some concern that video clips could be taken out of context and make the court look partisan or foolish.

Supreme Court members have generally been against the idea of cameras in their courtroom. Former Justice David Souter was once famously quoted as saying, “The day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it’s going to roll over my dead body.”

Grassley remarked that he didn’t want to see any justices die because of cameras, but he did think that cameras have an important place.

“I believe that we could enhance people’s understanding of the court system by having the Supreme Court TV, very much so, and we’re going to try to push it,” Grassley said at an event at the National Press Club.