The U.S. Supreme Court justices apparently don't trust themselves or the lawyers appearing before them to show restraint on live television and avoid a Judge Judy charade. If any issue before the court deserves live television coverage, it is the landmark health care legislation. The court is missing an opportunity to educate and inform Americans by refusing to allow live television coverage of this week's hearings.
The six hours of argument, scheduled over three days starting Monday, mark the court's longest oral argument since the six hours allocated in 1966 for Miranda vs. Arizona, which dealt with the rights of criminal suspects. Since that time, cameras have become a ubiquitous, unobtrusive presence in state courts with no disruption to the administration of justice or courtroom decorum. Yet the federal court system continues to ban cameras.
The court's decision to release same day audio recordings of the health care proceedings is a positive step, but it does not go far enough. C-SPAN, the cable network dedicated to televising the work of government, is uniquely qualified to air the health care arguments in a respectful and unobtrusive manner without commentary. Given the constitutional issues surrounding the health care issue and the sweeping impact of the court's decision in this case, the American people deserve to have a virtual seat in the courtroom. It also would be helpful for everyone to see for themselves how the nation's highest court operates. The more transparency in the court system as the greatest legal issues of the day are debated and decided, the better.