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Justices speak out against televising Supreme Court proceedings

[JURIST] During a US House Appropriations Committee hearing [announcement] Tuesday, Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy [official profiles] spoke against a bill [PDF text] that would permit public broadcasting of Supreme Court oral arguments. The justices told lawmakers that allowing cameras in the courtroom would alter the nature of the proceedings, and that just as the Supreme Court [official website] always avoids telling Congress how to operate, Congress should not interfere in the functioning of the Supreme Court.

Rep. John Olver (D-MA) suggested that the Court should move towards transparency, a sentiment echoed by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings last week where that committee approved a similar bill [JURIST report] for full Senate consideration. Both versions of the legislation would allow a majority of justices to ban cameras in any case where televised oral arguments could violate the due process rights of any party to a lawsuit. Justices sparred over the issue [JURIST report] at an American Bar Association conference last November. Justice David Souter famously told a congressional panel in 1996 that "the day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it's going to roll over my dead body." AP has more.

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