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U.S. Supreme Court

Ken Starr Op-Ed: Congress Has Duty to Require the Supreme Court to Admit Cameras

Posted Oct 3, 2011 6:39 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Many people who wait all night long to see the U.S. Supreme Court in action will be denied admission.

In a typical oral argument session when two cases are argued, there are only 250 seats available, and many of them are set aside for special guests, according to a New York Times op-ed by former Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr.

“Cameras in the courtroom of the United States Supreme Court are long overdue,” writes Starr, a former solicitor general, appeals judge and law dean who is now president of Baylor University. And if the justices won’t allow cameras of their own accord, Congress “has the capacity and the duty to take action,” he says.

Starr notes the court’s strong free-speech rulings, including its decision protecting anti-gay protesters at a military funeral from tort liability. The decisions make clear its view that the First Amendment should triumph, Starr says. He also disagrees with members of the court’s “old guard” who fear cameras will encourage judicial grandstanding.

The court already allows oral recordings, making fears of playing to the cameras appear groundless, Starr argues. “The idea that cameras would transform the court into ‘Judge Judy’ is ludicrous,” he writes.

Starr is a former member of the ABA Journal Board of Editors. Today is the first day of the Supreme Court's term.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Specter Says Chances Are Good for Bill to Televise Oral Arguments”

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