Senators re-introduce bill to force Supreme Court to televise sessions

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) speaks during the hearing for Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Washington, DC, February 22, 2021.

Al Drago | swimming pool | Reuters

The chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee and a leading Republican senator reinstated on Thursday an invoice that tries to force them supreme court To TV its public court sessions live.

Pushing for approval of the bill, Judiciary Chief Sen. Dick DurbinD-Ill., citing the declining credibility of the Supreme Court the public after the recent controversial rulings on abortion and gun control.

Proposed legislation would mandate televised sessions of the Supreme Court unless a majority of the court’s nine justices ruled that such coverage would violate the due process rights of a party appearing in court.

The Judiciary Committee approved the bill in 2021 with a bipartisan vote of 15-7. But she didn’t get much further in Congress.

A related bill, also re-tabled Thursday, would allow television coverage of all public-access trials in federal courts.

“With confidence in the court hovering near an all-time low, it would help shine a light into the SCOTUS chamber to strengthen our democracy,” Durbin wrote in a Twitter post as he and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the bill relaunched Thursday.

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A Supreme Court spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court has long refused to allow cameras — TV or still — into hearings for cases or other proceedings. For this reason, and because of the relatively few seats allocated to the public in the court chamber, few people ever see a Supreme Court confrontation.

In 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic shutting down public access to the courthouse for more than two years, the Supreme Court began allowing live audio streaming of hearings.

Many federal courts, which also don’t allow television access, allowed live streaming audio or dial-up access for the first time because of the pandemic.

In those two years, the proportion of Americans who said they had a high or moderate level of trust in the government’s judiciary, headed by the Supreme Court, fell from 67% to 47%, according to polling firm Gallup.

That was a record low of 6 percentage points since Gallup began surveying trust levels in the Supreme Court in 1972.

The new low came months after the end of what was considered one of the most controversial and consequential Supreme Court terms, notably marked by two rulings.

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court reversed a half-century-old ruling in Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right to abortion. The new ruling in a case called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization says there is no such federal law, which prompted the ban on abortion in more than half of the United States.

A day earlier, at New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc vs. Bruen, The court overturned a New York gun control statute, ruling that people have a constitutional right to carry guns in public for their own protection.

Durbin cited both cases in a statement Thursday calling for televised Supreme Court sessions.

“Judges’ judgments in our nation’s highest court impact the lives of every American, regardless of zip code,” Durbin said. “We see an increasingly evident interest in the American people to be able to attend Supreme Court proceedings, from seemingly routine sittings to hearings in high-profile cases such as Dobbs and Bruen.”

Grassley said in his own statement, “The judiciary has a massive impact on our daily lives and the lives of generations to come, but few Americans ever get a chance to look inside the legal process.”

“Allowing cameras access to the Supreme Court would be a victory for transparency and would help the American people gain trust and understanding of the judiciary,” Grassley said.

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