Amid Supreme Court confirmation hearings that have been marked by numerous potentially viral exchanges, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) weighed in on the often-debated topic of whether the high court’s proceedings should be regularly televised, coming down firmly against the idea, citing what he described as his own colleagues’ penchant for the dramatic, as The Hill reports.
Acknowledging the potentially compelling arguments for having video equipment present at the Supreme Court, Sasse began, “I get their position that transparency is a virtue. Transparency is a good thing.”
Turning a critical eye towards those with whom he serves in the Senate, however, Sasse continued, “A huge part of why this institution doesn’t work well is because we have cameras everywhere. Cameras change human behavior. We know this.”
“There’s a whole bunch of things humans can do if they’re not immediately mindful of some distant camera audience that they might be trying to create a soundbite for,” the lawmaker added.
Again directing his critique toward the legislature, Sasse observed, “I think we should recognize that the jack-assery we often see around here is partly because of people mugging for short-term camera opportunities, and it is definitely a second and third and fourth order effect that the court should think through before it has advocates in there who are not only trying to persuade you nine justices, but also trying to get on cable that night or create a viral video.”
Arguing that it is not the role of Congress to decide whether cameras should be rolling at the Supreme Court, Sasse suggested that alternative methods of ensuring transparency already exist, including pen and paper, as well as recorded audio of oral arguments and the like, according to the Daily Wire.
Notably, in March of last year, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced a measure to put cameras at the high court so that “Americans can see deliberations and rulings on cases which will affect them for generations to come.”
Even so, during Thursday’s installment of Judge Ketanki Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Durbin praised the Nebraska Republican’s statement, saying, “I want to thank [Sasse] particularly, for a comment he made which has been quoted widely, in which he used the term ‘jackassery,’ which I had never heard before,” adding, “…I think there was great truth in what he said.”
Durbin’s glowing approval of his colleague’s remark included thinly veiled swipes at Republicans on the panel who dared to seek real answers from the nominee on several controversial issues, and sadly, that alliance of convenience is not terribly surprising, given Sasse’s frequently questionable loyalties to the party he purports to represent.