Washington Examiner

Lawmakers reintroduce bill to televise the Supreme Court

by Ryan Lovelace



Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Ted Poe, R-Texas, have reintroduced legislation that would require the Supreme Court's open proceedings to be televised.

"Our nation's highest court is not some 'mystical priesthood' that can operate outside of the public view," Connolly said in a statement. "It is a coequal branch of government and must be accountable to the American public. In today's digital age, it strains credulity that this modest effort at transparency would prove impossible or somehow inhibit the ability of our justices to hear cases in a fair manner."

The Cameras in the Court Act went nowhere when Connolly introduced it in the last Congress. Companion legislation from Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin also was ignored.

Poe, who served for 22 years as a criminal court judge, said his experience employing cameras in Texas courts leads him to believe it would serve the Supreme Court well. 

"I was one of the first judges in Texas to allow cameras in the courtroom. It worked," Poe said in a statement. "A simple non-intrusive camera would allow for greater transparency and greater faith in the decisions made by the federal government. Lack of seating capacity is no reason to deny the public their right to view what goes on in the third branch of government."

Whoever President-elect Trump picks to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia's death could have an impact on whether the high court opens up its proceedings for public scrutiny. Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett previously indicated an openness to allowing cameras in the courtroom in an interview with the Washington Examiner last year.

Scalia opposed any changes adding cameras to the courtroom.