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Connolly Reintroduces Cameras in the Courtroom Act

Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) reintroduced the Cameras in the Courtroom Act, which would ensure transparency and accountability in the judicial branch by televising open proceedings before the United States Supreme Court. Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

“Our nation’s highest court is not some mystical priesthood that can operate outside of the public view,” said Connolly. “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.”

“There are no technological barriers to putting a couple of unobtrusive, remote-controlled, pool feed cameras the size of one’s fist inside the Supreme Court’s courtroom tomorrow,” said Gabe Roth, Executive Director of Fix the Court. “But we know too well about the justices’ reluctance in this regard. So, just as Congress sets when the Court meets and the bounds of its jurisdiction, it has the power to dictate how its public exercises are distributed to the public, as this bill does. At the very least it puts pressure on the justices to maintain their COVID-era live audio access and not to backslide come October. A big thank you to Rep. Connolly and the cosponsors of this legislation for their leadership in introducing the bill and working to make our highest court more transparent.”

The Supreme Court currently allocates roughly 50 seats for the general public to witness cases. This significantly limits the public and the media to one-dimensional and sometimes distorted views of the Justices’ actions. State and federal courts, including all 50 state supreme courts, already allow recording equipment of various degrees.

The Cameras in the Courtroom Act is cosponsored by Reps. Nadler, Quigley, Norton, Cicilline, Johnson (GA) and Grijalva.

Full text of the legislation is available here.

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