Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), chair of the Judiciary Committee, decided on Thursday to introduce a bill that requires open proceedings of the Supreme Court to be televised — a massive and historic change to the high court’s traditional proceedings.
The bipartisan Cameras in the Courtroom Act would require the Supreme Court to permit television coverage of all open sessions of the Court, unless the Court decides, by a majority vote of the Justices, that doing so would constitute a violation of the due process rights of one or more of the parties before the Court.
“Decisions made by the Supreme Court can resonate with our nation for generations, yet most Americans will never have a chance to see the highest court in action,” Grassley wrote.
“Opening up the Supreme Court’s public proceedings to cameras and other broadcast tools provides a window into the court for all Americans, not just those in Washington, D.C. I’m proud to support this legislation especially as we celebrate Sunshine Week,” he added.
Durbin also supported the bill, writing, “It’s time to put cameras in the Supreme Court so Americans can finally see deliberations and rulings on cases which will affect them for generations to come.”
He added, “This bipartisan bill shines a light into the Judicial Branch of government so more than just a few hundred lucky Americans can watch proceedings in the Court’s historic halls.”
Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are cosponsoring the Cameras in the Courtroom Act.
In 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report highlighting the value of broadcasting video and audio coverage of Supreme Court and other appellate court proceedings.
The report noted, “Seating in the Court is limited and media organizations, as well as members of Congress, have requested video coverage of oral arguments. GAO was asked to review video and audio coverage of proceedings in the U.S. Supreme Court and other appellate courts.”