Let the Cameras Roll: Cameras in the Court and the Myth of Supreme Court Exceptionalism
Reynolds Courts & Media Law Journal, Vol. 1, p. 259, 2011
18 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2011
Date Written: August 1, 2011
Unlike almost every other public institution in the United States, the Supreme Court of the United States has never allowed the broadcast news media to bring the tools of their trade – cameras and microphones – into its courtroom for coverage of its proceedings. That defiant stance is born of fear of change, nostalgia, a self-interested desire for anonymity, but most of all exceptionalism: the Court’s view of itself as a unique institution that can and should resist the demands of the information age.
This article reviews the history of the long and unsuccessful effort to change the Court’s mind, and to examine whether the Court’s exceptionalist self-image or the other reasons it offers for its resistance to cameras can or should stand in the way of the demands of the modern era of access and transparency.
If the three-year experiment with cameras in civil proceedings at the federal district court level shows positive results, the Supreme Court may finally realize that the time has arrived to allow cameras in.
Keywords: cameras, court, U.S. Supreme Court
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