Bipartisanship is hard to come by during an election year, but there’s one thing we can all agree on. It’s time for the Supreme Court to GET WITH THE TIMES, GRANDPA! and start broadcasting arguments live.
Senate Judiciary Chairs Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy, whose aggregate age is 166, sent Chief Justice John Roberts a letter this morning apprising him of some exciting new developments in the field of digital technology.
We write to urge the Supreme Court to make permanent its recent efforts to increase transparency during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing live audio streams of all oral arguments commencing with its October 2020 term. Moreover, we urge the Court to build upon these measures by providing live video access to arguments as well—a commonsense reform that has enjoyed longstanding bipartisan support in Congress. Such access to the courtroom will empower Americans to become more informed participants in our system of government.
Whoa there, you wild-eyed radicals! Slow your roll. Not just audio, but you want video, too? That’s just crazytalk.
The senators note that the democracy did not fall apart when the court live-streamed audio of oral arguments during the recent coronavirus pandemic. And having managed to simultaneously coordinate arguments from the nine justices’ homes, plus those of the petitioners, the Court is no position to argue that the technical difficulties are somehow insurmountable.
By providing live audio access, the Court clearly demonstrated its technical capability to provide prompt disclosure and transparency to the public. And from all indications, the business before the Court was conducted in as dignified and professional a manner as is witnessed inside the courtroom under more normal circumstances.
Well, almost. Anyway, Justice Sotomayor won’t have to worry about unmuting herself if we ever get back to in-person arguments.
“We urge you, Mr. Chief Justice, to consider our request and bear in mind all those who would benefit most – including our democracy itself – from these simple yet meaningful measures of transparency,” the senators concluded.
Look for Chief Justice Roberts to agree to having cameras in his courtroom … NEVER. Does never work for you?
Judiciary Letter to Chief Justice Roberts, May 29, 2020
Elizabeth Dye (@5DollarFeminist) lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.