Senate Bill Calls for Cameras in the Supreme Court

Supreme Court
(Image credit: United States Supreme Court)

WASHINGTON—The highest court in the land could be coming to television, as a new bill was introduced in the Senate on March 18 that would allow for TV coverage of Supreme Court proceedings.

The bill, the Cameras in the Courtroom Act, was introduced by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa); it is also co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The legislation would require the Supreme Court to permit TV coverage of all open sessions, unless it is decided by a majority of the Justices that doing so would constitute a violation of due process rights. This bill only applies to sessions where the public are already invited to observe in person.

The bill aims to produce greater accountability, transparency and understanding of the judicial system. In 2016, a Government Accountability Office report (opens in new tab) highlighted the value of broadcasting video and audio coverage of the Supreme Court.

“It’s time to put cameras in the Supreme Court so Americans can finally see deliberations and rulings on cases which will affect them for generations to come,” said Sen. Durbin. “This bipartisan bill shines a light into the Judicial Branch of government so more than just a few hundred lucky Americans can watch proceedings in the Court’s historic halls.”

There has long been a debate to add cameras to the Supreme Court, as nearly all other courts in the country allow. During the pandemic, the Supreme Court has made live audio streaming available of its proceedings, though it is not clear if that will continue when in-person proceedings begin again.