ASNE joins Coalition for Court Transparency
We're happy to announce that ASNE had joined the Coalition for Court Transparency. Citing long lines outside the Supreme Court and the millions of Americans who are interested in, and affected by, the Court's decisions but unable to see cases being argued, this new alliance of media and legal organizations from across the political spectrum launchedTuesday a television ad campaign calling on the justices to allow cameras to televise oral arguments.
We're happy to announce that ASNE had joined the Coalition for Court Transparency. Citing long lines outside the Supreme Court and the millions of Americans who are interested in, and affected by, the Court's decisions but unable to see cases being argued, this new alliance of media and legal organizations from across the political spectrum launched Tuesday a television ad campaign calling on the justices to allow cameras to televise oral arguments.
The coalition is taking the unprecedented step of using an ad campaign to draw attention to the lack of transparency in this powerful branch of government and to urge the justices to change this outdated restriction.
"ASNE is dedicated to the open conduct of the public's business in every branch of government, and it's high time that transparency extended into the judicial branch," said ASNE President David Boardman, dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University. "The U.S. Supreme Court -- perhaps the most important public institution in the land -- is the least transparent. Further opening those hallowed chambers to public understanding and scrutiny will, in the long term, solidify trust and confidence in our system of government," Boardman said.
Although Congress has debated bipartisan, bicameral bills intended to compel Supreme Court justices to allow cameras during the past 15 years, legal experts agree that the justices could simply decide today to allow cameras -- and Monday's cases regarding the Environmental Protection Agency and its authority to address greenhouse gas pollution would be televised. In the past, C-SPAN officials have stated that the station would broadcast all of the Supreme Court's oral arguments if allowed.
To attend Supreme Court hearings, individuals must stand in line outside the building on First Street NE and wait to be ushered in. There are roughly 400 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 and the campaign finance, recess appointments and public prayer cases this 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 for them.
In addition to ASNE, members of the Coalition for Court Transparency are: Alliance for Justice, Constitutional Accountability Center, Liberty Coalition, National Association of Broadcasters, National Press Foundation, National Press Photographers Association, OpenTheGovernment.org, Radio Television Digital News Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Society for Professional Journalists.
"There was a time when cameras in the courtroom might have been disruptive, but with technological advances, that is no longer the case," said Boardman. "Meanwhile, the benefits are myriad: helping citizens better understand how the judiciary works and adding credibility to controversial and often misunderstood decisions. State courts have long allowed cameras in courtrooms without measurable harm, and it's time for the federal government to join them in the 21st century," he said.
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.
With some 500 members, ASNE is active in a number of areas of interest to top editors with priorities on improving freedom of information among all branches of government, diversity, readership and the credibility of newspapers. As part of its freedom of information mission, ASNE has regularly and actively supported a strong right of access to court proceedings and records and formally supports legislation that has been repeatedly introduced in Congress to require cameras in federal courts.
The ad, a 30-second television spot titled "Everywhere," will run nearly 300 times in the Washington, D.C., market on cable news outlets in the next few weeks.
The coalition also announced Tuesday that through its website, OpenSCOTUS.com, concerned Americans can sign an online petition calling on Chief Justice John Roberts to allow cameras in the Court.
"The Supreme Court's decisions impact the lives of Americans everywhere.
But only a privileged few get to witness history and see justice in action.
Leading Republicans and Democrats and a large majority of Americans support a simple fix -- putting cameras in the Supreme Court.
State and federal courts allow cameras in the interest of transparency. Shouldn't our nation's top court do the same?
It's time for a more open judiciary. It's time for cameras in the Supreme Court.
Find out more and take action at OpenSCOTUS.com."
To view the ad, visit OpenSCOTUS.com.