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Senator Arlen Specter Introduces 'Cameras in the Courtroom' Legislation

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Senator Arlen Specter Introduces 'Cameras in the Courtroom' Legislation

Old 01-30-07, 09:53 AM
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Senator Arlen Specter Introduces 'Cameras in the Courtroom' Legislation

http://specter.senate.gov/index.cfm?...th=1&Year=2007

Washington, D.C. - Today, Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation that will require the Supreme Court to permit television coverage of open Supreme Court proceedings, unless a majority of the Justices determine that the due process rights of one or more litigant would be violated. The legislation will open the Supreme Court’s doors so that more Americans can see the process by which the Court reaches critical decisions of law that affect this country and everyday Americans.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Russell Feingold (D-Wiss.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

“The Supreme Court makes pronouncements on Constitutional and federal law that have direct impacts on the rights of Americans,” stated Specter. “Those rights would be substantially enhanced by televising the oral arguments of the Court so that the public can see and hear the issues presented. With this information, the public would have insight into key issues and be better equipped to understand the impact of and reasons for the Court’s decisions.”

Senator Specter chaired a committee hearing on November 9, 2005 to address whether the Supreme Court proceedings should be televised. He also solicited the opinions of now-Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito during their confirmation hearings. Chief Justice Roberts said at the time that he would keep an open mind on the issue. Justice Alito stated that as a circuit judge he voted to permit televised proceedings in the Third Circuit.
________

Violation of Separation of Powers Doctrine?

Last edited by classicman2; 01-30-07 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 01-30-07, 09:59 AM
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Nay.

I really don't see the need for it. Very very few watch the legislature in action. Fewer would watch this, and they would also not be able to comprehend it. Plus same-day audio recordings are already available. Is a visual necessary?

In reality, what goes on behind the scenes (in the chambers, between the clerks, and in the conferences) is far more important (just like in the other branches).
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Old 01-30-07, 10:02 AM
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My problem is that it increase 'posturing' in the court as it has in the House & the Senate.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:04 AM
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and it will open up stupid comments by partisans who will question why some justices are asking certain questions
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Old 01-30-07, 10:05 AM
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Bad idea. I suspect this is an attempt by the Legislative Branch to intimidate the Judicial Branch.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
and it will open up stupid comments by partisans who will question why some justices are asking certain questions

Not to mention those justices who rarely ask questions. There will surely be members of media who will take this to mean that said justice isn't intelligent enough to serve on the highest court.

Speaking of the Court, I am looking forward to reading Jan Crawford Greenburg's new book out: Supreme Conflict. It has gotten excellent reviews.

I am also looking forward to PBS' 2-part series on the Court which airs the next 2 Wednesdays from 9-11. Here's a preview:
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07030/757785-237.stm

Last edited by Red Dog; 01-30-07 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:14 AM
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Of course there should be cameras. All of the federal government should be open to scrutiny by its citizens.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:15 AM
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No offense but unless it's Law & Order, Judge Judy or a high profile trial involving a celebrity, who is going to watch? Sounds silly to me. Actually, I believe that cameras in courtrooms are idiotic period.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:16 AM
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Then why not have cameras in closed committees of the Congress when classified documents are being discussed?

That's not a sound argument.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by eXcentris
No offense but unless it's Law & Order, Judge Judy or a high profile trial involving a celebrity, who is going to watch? Sounds silly to me. Actually, I believe that cameras in courtrooms are idiotic period.
Uh, who watches CSPAN and CSPAN2?
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Old 01-30-07, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Then why have cameras in closed committees of the Congress when classified documents are being discussed?

That's not a sound argument.
Of course there are situtations where confidential executive sessions would be held. The arguments for and against an issue of the court should be recorded - we have the technology and I'm sure CSPAN would happily oblige.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by CRM114
Of course there should be cameras. All of the federal government should be open to scrutiny by its citizens.

What takes place at oral arguments that you don't already have access to? There are written transcripts and same-day audio recordings (sometimes, like in Bush v. Gore, live audio) already available to the public.

The written opinions available to all as well. Hell, I plead with people to read opinions before rendering their opinion, and that's a fruitless endeavor. What good are cameras going to do if 99% of the country isn't even reading the opinions.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by CRM114
Uh, who watches CSPAN and CSPAN2?
Probably 4 people, including c-man.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:21 AM
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Specter is noted for coming up with some silly ideas. Remember back during the impeachment when he brought up something about the King's Law as grounds for impeachment?

There must be something in the water in PA.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
What takes place at oral arguments that you don't already have access to? There are written transcripts and same-day audio recordings (sometimes, like in Bush v. Gore, live audio) already available to the public.

The written opinions available to all as well. Hell, I plead with people to read opinions before rendering their opinion, and that's a fruitless endeavor. What good are cameras going to do if 99% of the country isn't even reading the opinions.
I'm sure you know the answer to your question. People do not want to read or listen to audio tapes. Maybe people would be more interested in the opinions if they could see the arguments?

I ask you - WHY audio and not video? Is this the 1970's?
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Old 01-30-07, 10:23 AM
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Most of the real work in congress is not shown on CSPAN.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:25 AM
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I have yet to hear a meaningful argument against cameras.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
Most of the real work in congress is not shown on CSPAN.
OK, so only video tape what the court currently audio tapes. Its not that revolutionary.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by CRM114
I have yet to hear a meaningful argument against cameras.

It would most assuredly create more 'posturing' in the court as it has done with cameras in the House & the Senate.

There are excuses for posturing in the House & the Senate - they're politicians. Justices of the SC aren't.

I also have a problem with the legislative branch telling the judicial branch how to conduct their business.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
It would most assuredly create more 'posturing' in the court as it has done with cameras in the House & the Senate.

There are excuses for posturing in the House & the Senate - they're politicians. Justices of the SC aren't.

I also have a problem with the legislative branch telling the judicial branch how to conduct their business.
Your final point has validity but not much.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by CRM114
I have yet to hear a meaningful argument against cameras.

I have yet to hear a meaningful argument for them.

If people can't be bothered to read or listen, then I don't see any reason for video.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:38 AM
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I think it would be interesting to see. If it's such a disaster, they can always be removed.
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Old 01-30-07, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
I think it would be interesting to see. If it's such a disaster, they can always be removed.

Watch America & The Courts on CSPAN Saturdays at 7. They frequently air recent important SCt arguments audio with a picture of the person talking on the screen. The actual video wouldn't be much different.

I'd bet you would lose interest rather quickly.
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Old 01-30-07, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
I have yet to hear a meaningful argument for them.

If people can't be bothered to read or listen, then I don't see any reason for video.
I'm sure they said the same thing before CSPAN.
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Old 01-30-07, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
Watch America & The Courts on CSPAN Saturdays at 7. They frequently air recent important SCt arguments audio with a picture of the person talking on the screen. The actual video wouldn't be much different.

I'd bet you would lose interest rather quickly.
So who cares if we take that next wacky step and show the picture MOVING? Booga booga!!!!

All I see is lame, antiquated thinking by government officials who wish not to be scrutinized.
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