Connolly and Poe Push for Cameras in the Court

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Washington, January 12, 2017 | comments
Today, Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Judge Ted Poe (R-TX) reintroduced the Cameras in the Court Act, which would ensure transparency and accountability in the judicial branch by televising open proceedings before the United States Supreme Court.

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

“It is time to give the American public the opportunity to see the most important court in the world in action,” said Rep. Poe. “The decisions made by the high court are the law of the land and the American people should have the chance to see how those significant decisions are made. I was one of the first judges in Texas to allow cameras in the courtroom. It worked. 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.”

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.

The Members note that state and federal courts, including all 50 state supreme courts, already allow recording equipment of various degrees. In addition, several Justices have already voiced their support for allowing cameras in the courtroom, and 72 percent of adults from across the political spectrum support it, according to a recent Gallup/USA Today poll.

"At a time when every aspect of our lives can be filmed and uploaded for the world to see, only through video-recording can the Supreme Court achieve a level of transparency that the public fully trusts,” said Gabe Roth, Executive Director of Fix the Court. “I am pleased that a bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a bill that would give all Americans - no matter where they live - the ability to watch justice unfold in real time."
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