4.30.2010

Cameras (Almost) In Camera

I'm quite firmly opposed to a measure moving through the U.S. Senate designed to permit and mandate video cameras in federal courtrooms, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Unlike Althouse, I think the effects of cameras on the courts would be more detrimental than beneficial.  Especially at the U.S. Supreme Court level.  At that level, the change would likely push the court and advocates toward showy display - and might reduce the emphasis on substance at oral arguments.

The presence of cameras would also likely impact the pool of potential nominees a President would consider.  The old Nixon v. Kennedy superficial debate considerations would creep into the calculus.  Again, I think that might be a loss for the court and the country - great minds might have visages more appropriate "for radio than tv" - and that shouldn't subliminally bar them at the outset from being fully in consideration for a seat on the court.

Importantly, there's also not much to be gained from the presence of cameras.  Focusing again on the U.S. Supreme Court, we already have access to sketches and, more importantly, full transcripts, written and audio, of oral arguments.  And it's possible to go and sit in the courtroom itself.