Our View: Cameras and the Supreme Court

Collegian Staff

The Supreme Court, with its lofty rhetoric and billowing robes, is a bastion of tradition and order, with a powerful voice in how government operates. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that laws are “just prophecies,” that it is judges who bring those predictions into a clear reality. How unfortunate, then, that such an integral part of democracy is veiled behind a curtain of anti-technology orthodoxy.

For years now, the Supreme Court has refused to allow cameras to observe their deliberations, regardless of circumstance. It is time for this to change. Chief Justice Roberts was quoted in 2010 saying, “We’re having a pilot project right now under the guidance of the of the judicial conference in terms of the lower courts to experiment with, again on a pilot basis, with television in the courts of appeals, and we’re going to see what the results of that are.” One of those results is that the New Mexico Supreme Court has been televising its decisions – without a complete breakdown in democracy.

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Although the Supreme Court claims it is the most transparent branch of government due to its detailed decisions, its lifelong tenured members should face increased scrutiny; their decisions have worldwide impact. Cameras would increase transparency in the courtroom  what do they have to hide?