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Disrobing the justices

September 4, 2009 |  4:12 pm

Supreme Court, cameras in the courtroom Even if I hadn't covered the U.S. Supreme Court in a former life, I'd be looking forward eagerly to C-SPAN's interviews next month with members of the court, snippets of which are available now on YouTube. It's not often that TV viewers get to eye the mugs of The Nine.

But it's not never, either. Not counting their confirmation hearings, justices have been selectively subjecting themselves to TV interviews for some time, sometimes in connection with promoting their books. This fact renders even more ridiculous one argument against cameras in the courtroom, Justice Clarence Thomas' suggestion that, after 9/11, televising the court's aguments would let terrorists know what the justices look like. All they have to do is TiVo C-SPAN.

The more familiar argument against cameras in the Supreme Court is that they might alter the ethos of the court, perhaps by tempting justices into "saying something for a soundbite." (The quote comes from Justice Anthony Kennedy, pictured above.) Believe me, the Supreme Court arguments I've heard are eminently unsoundbitable.

Like the law that it interprets, the court should be open to evolutionary change. Television has been around for 60 years. The justices may still be camera-shy, but, as Justice Antonin Scalia once said in a somewhat different context: Get over it!"

Photo credit: AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

-- Michael McGough

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