[JURIST] US Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website; JURIST news archive] re-introduced a bill [S.344 summary] Monday which would allow US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] proceedings to be televised, "unless the Court decides, by a vote of the majority of justices, that allowing such coverage in a particular case would constitute a violation of the due process rights of one or more of the parties before the Court."
Specter said [press release]:
The Supreme Court makes pronouncements on Constitutional and federal law that have direct impacts on the rights of Americans. Those rights would be substantially enhanced by televising the oral arguments of the Court so that the public can see and hear the issues presented. With this information, the public would have insight into key issues and be better equipped to understand the impact of and reasons for the Courts decisions.Specter's previous legislation was approved [JURIST report] by the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] in March 2006 while he was serving as Committee chairman but did not get to the Senate floor.
Although Chief Justice John Roberts said during his confirmation hearings in 2005 that he would remain open-minded on the question of cameras in courts, other justices, including Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen Breyer and David Souter have spoken publicly against allowing cameras [AP report] in the Supreme Court itself, arguing that the Court's decisional process is on paper and suggesting that court proceedings should not be considered "entertainment." Specter's co-sponsors on the new bill include Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Russ Feingold (D-WI).