Tuesday, October 04, 2005


John Roberts has taken his seat as Chief Justice of the United States, or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, as we prefer to say. We are life-long Franklin Roosevelt Democrats. We believe Senator Jeff Bingaman did the right thing by voting for Justice Roberts, and we wish the Chief Justice well. We wish the Court well.

There is something we would like to see, however, and now is the time. We would like to see more openness in the Court. We would like to have live audo and video, going onto the internet, of all arguments, and other "public" proceedings. We are not asking to be in on the conferences, nor the arguments among the Justices themselves, or their clerks, and certainly not their deliberations.

We want the television camera to go unobtrusively into the courtroom during public proceedings. Why not? The camera goes almost everywhere in government (our founding fathers excluded the public from the Senate galleries at the beginning). The Senate, the House, the OJ trial, State funerals, etc.

Why not telecast the arguments, for example, in cases of such great public interest and importance? As this is written (updated)Chief Justice Roberts is presiding at a "public" hearing on an assisted suicide case from Oregon. It is not right for the Court to prohibit live and on-line video of the arguments. It is an outrage that the Court prohibits live audio of the arguments.

Would the camera be a distraction? Why? Would the lawyers ham it up? I doubt it. Is the Chief Justice unable to control counsel in this courtroom? I believe the Justices and the lawyers would be on their best behavior, paying attention. The world would know what a wonderful system of government we have, and how fair-minded our Courts are.

We blame the news media for not insisting years ago that these proceedings be televised. But now, with a change in administration of the Court, now is the time. Justice Roberts seems like a reasonable man. Ask him. Let us take a straw vote. Let Congress speak out. Our Supreme Court conducts its public proceedings in relative secrecy. Let the sunshine in.