Supreme Court TV Bill Expected to Get Vote

WASHINGTON: The Senate leadership is reportedly ready to move ahead with a vote on Senate Bill 446, which would permit the televising of Supreme Court proceedings.

Championed by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), the bill was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee in early June. Specter told the Pittsburg Post-Gazette that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised him a vote on the bill. Specter is also working with House of Representatives Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) to get a vote in that body.

The bill reads, “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.”

The Supreme Court has resisted cameras in the courtroom even though they have become more common in lower courts of the past decade. However, high court nominee Elena Kagan stated during her nomination hearing that she thought television cameras would be good for the court.

So far, seven senators have cosponsored the bill: John Cornyn (R-Texas), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Edward Kaufman (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). A companion bill, H.R.429, has been introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas); it currently has no cosponsors.