This week, when the Supreme Court decided it will hear arguments over the constitutionality of the new health care law, legal watchers started salivating. Scheduled for next March, it's being characterized as one of the most important cases in the Court's history.
Yesterday, C-SPAN sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts asking permission to televise the hearing. C-SPAN Chief Executive Officer, Brian Lamb wrote: "The Court's decision to schedule at least five-and-a-half hours of argument indicates the significance of this case. We ask that the Court further reflect this particular case's significance by supplementing your 'end of week audiocast' policy with live TV coverage. We believe the public interest is best served by live television coverage of this particular oral argument. It is a case which will affect every American's life, our economy, and will certainly be an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign. Additionally, a five-and-a-half hour argument begs for camera coverage -- interested citizens would be understandably challenged to adequately follow audio-only coverage of an event of this length will all the justices and various counsel participating."
The letter continues by asking the justices to set aside any misgivings about cameras in the courtroom. What are those misgivings? Supreme Court scholar Lisa McElroy says the justices are worried for a number of reasons: it could alter the behavior of those in Court; it could violate the privacy and anonymity of the justices; it could risk embarrassment for the justices; it could endanger them; and they aren't comfortable with new technology.
Are these valid concerns? Would you want to watch these arguments?
Lisa McElroy, Professor of Law, Earle Mack School of Law, Drexel University; Supreme Court scholar