Friday, November 11, 2005

Do we really want cameras in the Supreme Court?

The subject has come up again and again, is it time to have cameras record the proceedings of the Supreme Court? Melissa Drosjack wrote an article for Fox, “Pols Consider Cameras at Supreme Court",, which covered the subject fairly well. It has become a national craze to have the public entertained with one reality show after another. There are problems with such a mentality of broadcasting; one is that most of the garbage shown on reality shows has very little to do with reality and does not serve to enlighten anyone. “Hey Mabel, grab me another beer, that fellow wearing the spandex has his head buried in a bowl of fishing worms and has to eat them to get to the next round”; yea, that’s reality.

There is further reason to keep cameras out of the Supreme Court; but why limit this to the Supreme Court, there should not be cameras present in any court rooms. Witnesses act differently when the news media fills up the room with flood lights, prosecutors and defense attorneys put on their Hollywood shows and the whole thing becomes a Nielson’s Rating instead of a court of law.

We had a judge in Houston seriously considering permitting cameras to broadcast the workings of a jury during deliberations in a major trial not too long ago. Think about the necessary atmosphere, the weighing of critical evidence and testimony and then throw in a wild card, the chance to be on national television while deciding the fate of a human being; is that what justice is about? “Hey Mabel, grab me another beer, that lady who lives down the street, you know, the one who gets angry when Rascal digs up her flowers, yea, she’s the only one who can’t make up her mind on sending this slim bucket murderer/rapist to the electric chair.” Still think cameras in the courts are a good idea?

“Some senators want proceedings in federal courts, including the Supreme Court, to be televised. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has sponsored a Senate measure
calling for it."

"I think this is the year to make this law," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. "No branch of our government has remained a greater mystery to our average people than our federal courts."”


"While supporters say cameras in the courtroom would educate the public about the judicial branch and offer a first person account of its proceedings, opponents worry that witnesses, cameras that could broadcast nationwide might intimidate jurors and defendants."

A little further in the article is a line which closely matches my own sentiments. Let’s have the information available to the public, those interested in the proceedings of the Supreme Court have the information available to them in written form, have every word transcribed and posted on the internet; but leave the microphones and the cameras out of it.

"I think the cameras do more than just report proceedings, they affect the substance of the proceedings," said Judge Jan DuBois, of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania."

Thank you Judge Jan DuBois for saying in one line what it took me a page to do. Those who can’t see the simple truth regarding the altered state of testimony brought about by having a camera present need only look at those idiots in Washington standing in front of an empty Senate or Congress to record their “moment in history” as they babble, scratch that, as they eloquently present serious legislative issues “to the choir”.

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