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Cameras in the Court by Mind Map: Cameras in the Court
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Cameras in the Court

Justice Alito

"I had the opportunity to deal with this issue actually in relation to my own court a number of years ago. All the courts of appeals were given the authority to allow their oral arguments to be televised if it wanted. We had a debate within our court about whether we would or should allow television cameras in our courtroom. I argued that we should do it�The issue is a little different in the Supreme Court. It would be presumptuous for me to talk about it right now, particularly since at least one of the justices have said that a television camera would make its way into the Supreme Court over his dead body. I will keep an open mind despite the decision I took in the third circuit." - Confirmation Hearing, January 11, 2006 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"If our arguments were on television, we'd face some very stiff competition because there is already a surfeit of programming for court aficionados" - The Associated Press, October 19, 2007 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Television coverage of the Supreme Court would not simply let the public see what goes on before that important institution, but would also in some ways change what now goes on�Some lawyers arguing before the court in televised cases would use the occasion to address the television audience for political or other purposes." In addition, Alito said televised proceedings could affect how justices ask questions during arguments." - Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey speech, April 1996 (prior to joining the Court) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chief Justice Roberts

"There's a concern (among justices) about the impact of television on the functioning of the institution. We're going to be very careful before we do anything that might have an adverse impact." - Remarks at the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' annual conference, July 13, 2006 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Well, my new best friend, Senator Thompson, assures me that television cameras are nothing to be afraid of. But I don't have a set view on that. I do think it's something that I would want to listen to the views of - if I were confirmed - to my colleagues." - Confirmation Hearing, September 14, 2005 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Justice Kagan

"I have said that I think it would be a terrific thing to have cameras in the courtroom ... I think it would be a great thing for the institution, and more important, I think it would be a great thing for the American people." - Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, June 29, 2010 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I have the feeling that they are going to make this decision themselves, and they probably should. They're the folks who best of the dynamic on the court -- who best know the dynamics of the court, and I would not get in their way on this. But I thought about it as I watched the court in the past several months. I was confirmed by the senate on March 21, and literally the day after that was the Supreme Court. I went to every argument there in the march sitting, and every argument in the April sitting, as well. What I was struck by is that if cameras were in the courtroom, the American public would see an extraordinary event. This court, I think, is so smart and so prepared and so engaged, and everybody who gets up there at the podium is, you know, the toughest questions, the most challenging questions are thrown at that person. And there is a debate of really extraordinarily intellectual adultness and richness -- adeptness and richness. When c-span first came on, they put cameras in legislative chambers. And it was clear that nobody was there. I think if you put cameras in the courtroom, people would say, "wow." They would see their government working at a of really high level -- at a really high level. That is one argument for doing it." - Appearance at a Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, July 23, 2009 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Justice Thomas

"The primary point for me has been that regular appearances on TV would mean significant changes in the way my colleagues conduct their lives. My anonymity is already gone. It's already affected the way I conduct my own life. But for some of my colleagues, they've not yet lost that anonymity. I think security is on the foremost of all of our minds now since 9/11. I think they'll certainly become even more significant with more exposure." - Testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee, March 8, 2007 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"It runs the risk of undermining the manner in which we consider the cases. Certainly it will change our proceedings. And I don't think for the better." - Testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee, April 4, 2006 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I have no objection beyond a concern that the cameras be as unobtrusive as possible...It's good for the American public to see what's going on in there." - Confirmation Hearing, 1991 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Justice Scalia

"If I thought that cameras in the Supreme Court would really educate the people, I would be all for it. But I think it would miseducate and misinform. Most of the time the court is dealing with bankruptcy code, the internal revenue code, [the labor law] ERISA -- stuff only a lawyer would love. Nobody's going to be watching that gavel-to-gavel except a few C-SPAN junkies. For every one of them, there will be 100,000 people who will see maybe 15 second take-out on the network news, which I guarantee you will be uncharacteristic of what the Supreme Court does." - Georgetown University's "Blue and Gray," October 20, 2006 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Not a chance, because we don't want to become entertainment. I think there's something sick about making entertainment out of other people's legal problems. I don't like it in the lower courts, and I don't particularly like it in the Supreme Court." - CNBC Interview, October 10, 2005 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I wouldn't mind having the proceedings of the court, not just audioed, but televised, if I thought it would only go out on a channel that everyone would watch gavel-to-gavel. But if you send it out on C-SPAN, what will happen is, for every one person who sees it on C-SPAN gavel-to-gavel...10,000 will see 15-second sound takeouts on the network news, which I guarantee you will be uncharacteristic of what the court does...So, I have come to the conclusion that it will misinform the public rather than inform the public to have our proceedings televised. They want ''man bites dog'' stories. They don't want people to watch what the Supreme Court does over the course of a whole hour of argument. People aren't going to do that." - "A Constitutional Conversation," April 21, 2005 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Well, when I first came on the court, I was in favor of having cameras in the court. I am less and less so...I don't want it to become show biz...It is the tradition of common law judges not to be public figures, not to be prominent in the political process or in the process of public interest. I think that's a good tradition...So, for those various reasons, I'm not a big fan of having our sessions televised. Our sessions are open and anytime any of you is in Washington, I certainly invite you to attend, urge you to attend. I think it's a good show myself." - May 23, 1990 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"My estimation is that it's not going to happen soon...One of the traditions of the American judiciary...Is not to thrust itself before the public...I think some of the Justices would feel that value, among others, would be somewhat compromised by televising all of the proceedings." "It isn't that people would just sit there and watch C-SPAN gavel-to-gavel. What would happen, of course, is that cut-outs from the full proceedings would appear on the evening news, and I think some Justices don't feel that's in accord with the retiring...attitude that has been traditional-and I think a good tradition-for American justices to maintain." - 1988 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Justice Kennedy

"...But I don't think it's in the best interest of our institution...Our dynamic works. The discussions that the justices have with the attorneys during oral arguments is a splendid dynamic. If you introduce cameras, it is human nature for me to suspect that one of my colleagues is saying something for a soundbite. Please don't introduce that insidious dynamic into what is now a collegial court. Our court works...We teach, by having no cameras, that we are different. We are judged by what we write. WE are judged over a much longer term. We're not judged by what we say. But, all in all, I think it would destroy a dynamic that is now really quite a splendid one and I don't think we should take that chance." - Appearance before the House Appropriations Subcommittee, March 8, 2007 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"The majority on my court feel very strongly however, that televising our proceedings would change our collegial dynamic and we hope that this respect that separation of powers and balance of checks and balances implies would persuade you to accept our judgment in this regard. We do not discuss a case before going on the bench. It's a fascinating dynamic...This is a dynamic that works. Please don't introduce into the dynamic that I have with my colleagues, the insidious temptation to think that one of my colleagues is trying to get a soundbite for the television. We don't want that...We are judged by what we write...We think it would change our dynamic. We feel it would be unhelpful to us...We have come to the conclusion that it will alter the way in which we hear our cases, the way in which we talk to each other the way in which we use that precious hour, and we hope that the Senate would defer to us as a coordinate branch of the government." - Appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, February 14, 2007 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"We feel very strongly that we have intimate knowledge of the dynamics and the mood of the court, and we think that proposals mandating and directing television in our courts is inconsistent with the deference and etiquette that should apply between the branches." "We've always taken the position and decided cases that it's not for the court to tell the Congress how to conduct its proceedings. We feel very strongly that this matter should be left to the courts...We have a dynamic that's different than yours: not better, not worse, but different." - Testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee, April 4, 2006 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Sometimes if the system is flawed, the people ought to know it. And if television shows a flawed system, then let them see it...But television can be a teacher. And if we were going to have a debate on television in the courtroom, and you drew the affirmative side of the debate, you could make probably more positive points. And we sometimes wish lawyers were better prepared, but they haven't seen us at work. If they had a videotape or a DVD, then they could see it. So you can make a lot of arguments for it." "But remember, by not having the press in the courtroom, we also teach...Our timeline, our language, our grammar, our ethic, our chronology, our dynamic are different from the political branches...By keeping the TV out, you teach that...There are a number of people who want to make us part of the national entertainment network." - American Bar Association Rule of Law Symposium Panel on the Role of the Judiciary, November 10, 2005 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"My initial reaction is that I think it might make me and my colleagues behave differently than they would otherwise." "Perhaps they would be accustomed to it after awhile. The press is a part of our environment. We cannot really excise it from the environment." "But in the courtroom, I think that the tradition has been that we not have that outside distraction, and I am inclined to say that I would not want them in appellate court chambers." "I once had a case in which-it was a very celebrate case in the City of Seattle. And the courtroom was packed. And we were at a critical point in the argument. I was presiding." "And a person came in with all kinds of equipment and began setting it up. And he disturbed me. He disturbed the attorneys. He disturbed everybody in the room." And he was setting up an easel to paint our picture, which was permitted. If he had a little Minox camera, we would have held him in contempt." "So, the standard doesn't always work." - Confirmation Hearing, 1987 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Justice Sotomayor

"I have had positive experiences with cameras. When I have been asked to join experiments of using cameras in the courtroom, I have participated. I have volunteered. " Confirmation Hearing July 14, 2009 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Justice Ginsburg

"I would not object, just for myself, to having proceedings televised, provided the control remain in the hands of the Court and that the coverage was gavel-to-gavel-but I do not think a decision like that should ever be forced on judges who take a different view. Right now, the view is that our proceedings should not be televised. That may change based on the experience of state supreme courts. Several of our states are experimenting with televised trials. Televised appeals. And if it works, in time it will spread, and if it doesn't, then it won't�Our courtroom is generally packed, sometimes there are long lines to get in�and this would be another way of opening the court further." - Interview with Canadian Lawyers Weekly, October 2000 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I think what bothers many people, at least me, on the other side, is that if it were in the Supreme Court, I think it would become a symbol for every court, and therefore it would be in every criminal trial in the country. And when I start thinking about witnesses, [sic] I don't want them thinking how they look to their neighbors�And I do think about the O.J. Simpson case. And I think I'm not certain I would vote in favor of having it in every criminal trial in the country. And then I also think a problem in the appellate court is that when we decide something, it's decided for millions of people. Of the millions of people who will be affected, only two or three are actually there in the form of parties� A decision of this issue, this kind of issue, which carries with it threats to that institution as well as benefits, should be decided after really pretty serious research and study, and not decided on the basis of something that happens to strike somebody two minutes in a conversation. And that goes, by the way, for me as well as for everybody else. - American Bar Association Rule of Law Symposium Panel on The Role of the Judiciary, November 10, 2005 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I have no strong feeling on that subject, therefore I respect the judgment of my colleagues who do." - Symposium on Supreme Court of Canada, September 2000 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I don't see any problem with having proceedings televised. I think it would be good for the public." - Confirmation Hearings, 1993 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Justice Breyer

"I think there are good reasons for it and good reasons against it. The best reason against it is the problem that we could become a symbol since we are the Supreme Court, and if it was in our court, it would be in every court in the country, criminal cases included...When you have television in some, not all, criminal cases, there are risks. The risks are that the witness is hesitant to say exactly what he or she thinks because he knows the neighbors are watching. The risk might be with some jurors that they are afraid that they will be identified on television and thus could become the victims of a crime. There are risks involving what the lawyer might or might not be thinking...Is he influenced by that television when he decides what evidence to present? So what you have in me and the other judges, is a conservative reaction, with a small "c." We didn't create the Supreme Court...But we are trustees for that reputation, a reputation of great importance so that government will work fairly in America...And not one of us wants to take a step that could undermine the courts as an institution." "...I hope eventually the answer will become clear, that either those who are concerned about the negative effects are shown wrong, or they're shown right. But at the moment I think it's quite uncertain what the answer is." - Interview on C-SPAN's Q & A, December 4, 2005 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I think what bothers many people, at least me, on the other side, is that if it were in the Supreme Court, I think it would become a symbol for every court, and therefore it would be in every criminal trial in the country. And when I start thinking about witnesses, [sic] I don't want them thinking how they look to their neighbors...And I do think about the O.J. Simpson case. And I think I'm not certain I would vote in favor of having it in every criminal trial in the country. And then I also think a problem in the appellate court is that when we decide something, it's decided for millions of people. Of the millions of people who will be affected, only two or three are actually there in the form of parties... A decision of this issue, this kind of issue, which carries with it threats to that institution as well as benefits, should be decided after really pretty serious research and study, and not decided on the basis of something that happens to strike somebody two minutes in a conversation. And that goes, by the way, for me as well as for everybody else." - American Bar Association Rule of Law Symposium Panel on The Role of the Judiciary, November 10, 2005 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"When you say start with the video and see how it goes...And be very, very cautious, I think that would reflect my view." - "A Constitutional Conversation," April 21, 2005 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"I'd say this, Senator. The issue came up in the Judicial Conference of the United States, of which I was a member. That's the-they have representatives of all the circuits and also the district courts. And I voted in favor of that. We voted to have a television in the-the questions as the Court of Appeals and the district courts and we would run an experimental program. And it's going on now in the district courts, but also in the courts of appeals. I volunteered our First Circuit with the concurrence of the other judges for the program, but we were not accepted as an experimental circuit. So, I have expressed a view that is appropriate in that way in the Judicial Conference. "Now, I should add that before making any decision about in the Supreme Court of the United states, if that issue arose, obviously I would listen to other members of the Court and try to understand their points of view and what they were thinking, too." - Confirmation Hearing, July 12, 1994 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Let me not talk about the particular case, and let me think about things that were in my mind a year ago, or two years ago, well before that particular matter arose. At that time, I voted in favor in the judicial conference of experimenting with television in the courtroom. That has been carried out. The results are being evaluated." "In Massachusetts, television is in the courtroom. The Massachusetts judges I've spoken to seem generally satisfied. The results of that are being evaluated in the federal system. My particular appeals court was not part of the experiment, but not for want of willingness; it was because they could only have a small number." "That's the circumstances in which I think my vote in favor of the experiment was right as of this moment-abstracting from this particular case and putting myself back in the frame of mind I was two or three months ago in respect to this. That's basically my view." - Confirmation Hearing, July 13, 1994 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------