Lawmakers Want to Use 'Very Strong Authority' Over Supreme Court to Allow Filming

A group of lawmakers want to use the power of Congress to put videocameras in the Supreme Court.

The members of Congress argued that legislative action is necessary since the Supreme Court has banned the broadcasting of hearings.

“When the court is as obstinate as it is on this subject, it invites civil disobedience, especially given the technology that now exists. It is very easy to go into a building like this undiscovered and use technology to do what the court itself will not do — make itself accountable and transparent to the public,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said in a press conference outside of the Supreme Court in Washington.

Connolly, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) have sponsored the Eyes on the Courts Act, which would permit photography, electronic recording, broadcasting, television and streaming in real-time or near real-time.

“I have hope Congress will act,” Quigley said at the press conference.

Nadler said Congress has “very strong authority” over the court and can require them to broadcast all hearings.

“The awareness has increased and certainly there have been enough highly publicized cases recently so that people are more and more interested in it,” Nadler told PJ Media. “I fully expect one of the issues in the presidential campaign will be vote Democratic or vote Republican because the next president will get to appoint potentially three Supreme Court justices, and there’s nothing more important. Well, that focuses attention too.”

Nader was asked if C-SPAN cameras should be also allowed to record floor action and hearings in Congress.

“I thought they did,” he responded. When told the House and Senate control the cameras, Nadler asked what C-SPAN would do differently.

In the past, C-SPAN’s requests to use their own cameras and personnel to record in the chamber have been denied by congressional leadership.

“If you’re going to show a congressional hearing or a Supreme hearing you should show the whole thing, you shouldn’t show parts of it; I mean, you can show parts of it later on the news,” Nadler said. “People should see the whole thing as it is if they want to watch it.”

Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, said the Supreme Court could set up livestreaming for the hearings in a short period of time.

“There are a lot of different ways to do it so I think this is an effort at the start of the Supreme Court term to highlight the fact that our third branch of government, which has become the most powerful, least accountable institution in our government, needs to open up and be more accessible to the American public who isn’t able to take off work and stand in line to see the justices in action,” he said.