ABA Midyear Meeting

Supreme Court should make video of oral arguments available to public, ABA House urges

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Corrected: At a time when the U.S. Supreme Court justices hand down plenty of divided decisions, there’s one subject they’re unanimous about: They don’t want cameras in their courtroom. Several have commented publicly about concerns that televising arguments would lead to misleading 30-second “soundbites” rather than an accurate and comprehensive presentation of the proceedings.

Nonetheless, the ABA’s House of Delegates voted Monday afternoon to urge the Supreme Court to allow cameras to record its oral arguments and make those recordings publicly available.

The Young Lawyers Division introduced Resolution 110 because it believes video would make the Supreme Court more accessible, said YLD delegate Andrew Schpak of Oregon. Schpak noted that only 260 people can sit in the Supreme Court’s gallery, and those people must be physically in Washington, D.C.

“It’s hard to sit down a kid with a 1,000-page transcript and tell him to read it and get excited about what he’s reading,” said Schpak, an attorney at Barran Liebman LLP in Portland.

YLD delegate Myra McKenzie-Harris of Arkansas urged support of the amendment by noting that she didn’t learn to be a lawyer entirely from books.

“I read, I wrote, and most importantly, I watched more seasoned attorneys,” she said.

The resolution ultimately passed with strong support.

Updated Feb. 9 to correct a misidentification.

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