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Petitioning Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Roberts

It's Time for Cameras in the Supreme Court

While Congress has debated legislation intended to compel Supreme Court justices to allow cameras over the last 15 years, legal experts agree that the justices could simply decide today to allow cameras. In the past C-SPAN officials have stated that the network would broadcast all of the Supreme Court's oral arguments if allowed.

Currently, to attend Supreme Court hearings, individuals must stand in line outside the building and wait to be ushered in. There are roughly 250 seats in the courtroom, so many people hoping to view the arguments are unable to, especially in cases that have broad public interest, such as the marriage equality, voting rights, and affirmative action cases last term. For these types of cases, interested parties must often line up hours, if not days, in advance of the arguments and in some instances pay thousands of dollars to “line-standers” to hold their places.

Despite the Supreme Court's own reluctance on cameras, Americans have greater access to high-level judicial hearings elsewhere in the country. All 50 state supreme courts permit recording equipment to varying degrees, and on the federal level the Judicial Conference of the United States has placed cameras in 14 federal courts as part of a three-year, multi-district pilot program to study the effect of broadcasting federal court proceedings.

We hope you'll sign our petition and join our call for greater transparency at the Supreme Court by allowing cameras to broadcast its oral arguments.

The Coalition for Court Transparency comprises seven media organizations, American Society of News Editors, National Association of Broadcasters, National Press Foundation, National Press Photographers Association, Radio Television Digital News Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Society for Professional Journalists; and four legal and pro-transparency groups, Alliance for Justice, Constitutional Accountability Center, Liberty Coalition and OpenTheGovernment.org.

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  • Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court
    John Roberts

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