According to the 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, no U.S. Citizen will be stopped from voting “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) was passed to stop discriminatory practices that the 15th Amendment was ratified to outlaw. Last week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that the VRA was simply a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
As I wrote last year, voter suppression could have barred 10 million Latinos from voting. The VRA helps determine how public officials such as members of Congress and the President of the United States will be elected. Wouldn’t you have wanted to witness such an absurd statement made by one of our nation’s highest jurists on television?
In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the late Senator Arlen Specter wrote that Supreme Court proceedings should be televised. Why not? The SCOTUS constitutes the Judicial Branch of the Federal government. It interprets laws that affect each and every one of us.
Since the Supreme Court of the United States decided the most important issues facing America, its open proceedings should be televised to inform the public how its government operates.
In 1980, the SCOTUS already decided that prohibiting members of the media and the public from attending a criminal or civil trial violated the first amendment to the Constitution (Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia). C-SPAN is also eager to televise SCOTUS proceedings. In 2011, C-SPAN sent a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts requesting permission to televise oral arguments on challenges to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). C-SPAN has been making similar requests since the 1980’s. C-Span has broadcasted news coverage on Supreme Court proceedings, and they have a page that outlines Supreme Court Justices documented views on televised proceedings.
Justices have expressed differing opinions on televising the Supreme Court. Justice Samuel Alito noted that they would probably be competing against the likes of other court television shows.
“If our arguments were on television, we’d face some very stiff competition because there is already a surfeit of programming for court aficionados,” Justice Alito told the Associated Press in 2007.
Justice Scalia has voiced his adamant opposition to televising SCOTUS proceedings on several occasions. Of course, why would anyone want to be seen insulting protections for U.S. Citizens of all nationalities, races, and social statuses live on camera?
“If I thought that cameras in the Supreme Court would really educate the people, I would be all for it,” Justice Scalia told Georgetown University’s Blue and Gray, in 2006. “But I think it would miseducate and misinform.”
In 2009, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, expressed her enthusiasm to be televised in the Supreme Court.
“I have had positive experiences with cameras,” Justice Sotomayor said during her Confirmation Hearing. “When I have been asked to join experiments of using cameras in the courtroom, I have participated. I have volunteered.”
However, Justice Sotomayor recently told Charlie Rose why she was against televising the Supreme Court.
“I don’t think most viewers take the time to actually delve into either the briefs or the legal arguments to appreciate what the court is doing,” she said. “They speculate about, oh, the judge favors this point rather than that point. Very few of them understand what the process is, which is to play devil’s advocate.”
By a whopping majority, nonetheless, the American public has expressed its support for televising the Supreme Court. In 2010, a Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) poll found that 61 percent of American voters favored televising Supreme Court hearings. In a USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted in 2011 when challenges to ObamaCare were going to be heard by the SCOTUS, 72 percent of Americans were in favor of televising the court’s proceedings.