U.S. Supreme Court

Ex-Senator's Op-Ed Backs Televised Arguments as Way to Improve Supreme Court Popularity

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Public confidence in the rule of law could get a boost if the U.S. Supreme Court allowed televised oral arguments, according to a former lawmaker who once chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In an op-ed for Philly.com, former Sen. Arlen Specter says the legitimacy of the judicial system depends on public confidence.

“When precedents are repeatedly overruled in 5-4 decisions, the justices’ votes may seem to be according to their personal and political preferences rather than objective interpretations of the law,” he writes. “One way the court could improve that public perception is by televising its proceedings.”

Specter says that Justice Clarence Thomas indicated during testimony before a Senate committee in April that televising oral arguments could be “a big plus for the court and for the public.” During her confirmation hearings, Elena Kagan also approved the idea.

Specter says Congress “arguably has the authority to mandate television coverage.” Though the Supreme Court could overturn a camera requirement, it may be reluctant to do so given public opinion and the widespread acceptance of cameras by other state supreme courts, Specter says.

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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