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Disrobing the justices

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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bill cormeny

It's very difficult to understand the justices.
The bureaucracy is constantly changing in the Supreme Court as very talented clerks move in and out of the staff.Unlike the rest of DC these young clerks will not reveal anything to the press.If it ever found that they have,they will ruin their careers forever.
Secondly,all the justices are picking up the trash.The lower courts or state courts messed up somewhere along the line.The principles or actions of the litigants can be outrageous or outlandish because attorneys need billable hours,and gullible clients believe they have a "case."
Unlike the other two branches,the Court can be like the Vatican and delay things indefinitely.One example is the case which was decided last year after 27 years of contemplation,a record for the Court.Could you imagine Congress or the President waiting for 27 years?Outside of medical care reform I cannot.
Most people the know the legal profession is based on this premise:
Delay is pay.



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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