Senators Are Pushing to Install Cameras Inside the Supreme Court

United States Senators Charles Grassley and Richard Blumenthal have co-sponsored a bill that would see to install cameras inside of federal courts. The hope is to then extend this to include placing cameras inside the Supreme Court.

The bipartisan bill, called the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act 2023, would grant federal judges the discretion to allow cameras in their courtrooms while also protecting the identities of witnesses or jurors when necessary or upon request, CBS News reports.

As of Friday, April 28, the bill has received five co-sponsors.

“There is an overwhelming sense, at least at that level, that Americans deserve to see what’s happening,” Senator Blumenthal tells CBS News. He says that, specifically, the prosecution related to the riot and attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 raised public interest and awareness regarding the lack of camera access in courtrooms.

“This is an idea whose time has come.”

Advocates of the bill say that at present, there are huge amounts of litigation, court proceedings, and details on important cases that are kept from the public entirely.

“By giving the judges discretion, it preserves the ability to shield some witnesses, who might not want their identities young,” Blumenthal continues. “If they’re young or victims of domestic violence.”

Of note, the bill specifies that there would be no broadcast or capture of audio for any conferences between attorneys and clients unless their conference was an official record of the proceedings. Additionally, nothing in the bill would limit the inherent authority of a court to protect witnesses or clear the courtroom to preserve the decorum and integrity of the legal process or protect the safety of an individual.

While it is possible that the bill to allow cameras into federal courtrooms will pass, a separate bill that is aimed to have them allowed into the Supreme Court appears less likely, despite the desire to see it through from members of Congress. The Cameras in the Courtroom Act would aim to do this, but there has not been much movement on it since it was introduced in 2021 — that said, it is getting renewed interest as part of the discussion on Grassley and Blumenthal’s federal court-centered bill.

“This bill requires the Supreme Court to permit television coverage of all open sessions of the Court unless it decides by majority vote that allowing such coverage in a particular case would violate the due process rights of any of the parties involved,” the bill’s summary reads.

CBS News reports that both Senators Blumenthal and Grassley feel there are less than favorable prospects of getting it approved, especially considering that some of the strongest opposition to it would come from the Supreme Court Justices themselves — the same justices that today pushed back on ethics oversight of their court and argued that such a thing would only “raise more questions.”

Despite these roadblocks, the two Senators and The Cameras in the Courtroom Act’s sponsors Durbin and Richard believe that such an act is required to assure and preserve public trust in the United States’ highest court.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.