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Senate panel approves bill to televise Supreme Court proceedings

The Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] on Thursday voted 11-7 [CSPAN video] in favor of a bill [S 1945 text, PDF] that would allow televising of US Supreme Court [official website] proceedings. Currently, only few citizens can hear the proceedings in person, and audio recordings are released after the proceedings are over. However, the bill would not make televising proceedings mandatory: "The Supreme Court shall permit television coverage of all open sessions of the Court 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 1 or more of the parties before the Court." A similar bill, The Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2011 [HR 3572, PDF] is still pending in the House Judiciary Committee [official website].

This bill, when first proposed, faced numerous criticism as well as support and initiated a longstanding debate [JURIST report; hearing materials] among judiciary and congressional officials. Supporters argued that the bill would create a more transparent government and secure citizens' right to access governmental materials. On the other spectrum, there was concern that parts of the proceedings could be taken out of context and be abused creating misrepresentations of the court.

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