Skip to Content

Connolly Reintroduces Legislation to Increase Transparency at the Supreme Court

The Cameras in the Courtroom Act would require open proceedings before the Court to be televised

Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation, reintroduced the Cameras in the Courtroom Act, legislation to ensure transparency and accountability in the judicial branch by televising open proceedings before the United States Supreme Court. The legislation is cosponsored by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary; Hank Johnson (D-GA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet; Mike Quigley (D-IL); and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).


“As recent revelations about Justice Clarence Thomas’ unethical behavior have demonstrated, our nation’s highest court is in desperate need of transparency and reform,” said Connolly. “The Supreme Court is not some mystical priesthood that can operate outside of the public view. It is a coequal branch of government and must be accountable to the American public. Our legislation would go a long way toward restoring trust in an institution that for too long has operated in the dark. It’s time for cameras in the courtroom.”


“Transparency is essential to our democracy, yet Americans cannot witness our nation’s highest court in action because these proceedings are not televised or streamed,” said Nadler. “With trust in the Supreme Court at an all-time low after Justice Thomas’ repeated unethical and potentially unlawful conduct, Congress must act to restore Americans’ faith in our judicial system. Bringing cameras into the courts will shine a light on the most impactful decisions being made in our country, which is why I’m proud to join Rep. Connolly in introducing the Cameras in the Courtroom Act.”


“It’s beyond debate now that the courts – particularly the Supreme Court –  have fallen behind in terms of openness, accessibility, and transparency” said Johnson. “Everyday Americans cannot travel all the way to the Supreme Court for oral arguments, which means that only insiders and wealthy individuals can see the Court in action. It’s past time for the Supreme Court to come out into the sunlight so everyone can see how they operate. The Cameras in the Courtroom Act provides the framework to hold judges accountable to the public and restore faith in the institution.”


“The American people are best served when all three branches of our government are transparent and accessible,” said Quigley. “At present, public trust in the Supreme Court is at a discouraging low point. Bringing cameras into the highest court and providing real time access to the Court’s cases would greatly expand its accessibility to all Americans and provide historic and educational value.”


"With several recent scandals, the U.S. Supreme Court badly needs transparency and reform to ensure its continued legitimacy as the third branch of our government," Norton said. "Allowing cameras in the chamber is one way to increase transparency, while allowing American citizens across the country to see the important work done in the nation's highest Court."


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.


Connolly originally introduced the Cameras in the Courtroom Act in the 112th Congress and has reintroduced it in nearly every Congress since. He has outlined the importance of the legislation in opinion pieces for the Washington Post and the Hill


Full text of the legislation is available here.

Back to top