Time for the Supreme Court to be televised

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The Supreme Court is taking an unprecedented step toward greater accessibility this month. Beginning May 4, the Court has been livestreaming its oral arguments (all of which will take place over the telephone). Finally, millions of Americans will be given insight into the Court's deliberations. If all goes well, when the Court meets in person once again, it should go one step further — by allowing its proceedings to be recorded and televised. Taking such a step will allow for a better-informed public, and more transparency will strengthen the Court's legitimacy.

Cameras have been banned in the Supreme Court since 1946, and the prospect of their introduction has usually been met with distaste by the justices. For instance, Justice Souter once famously remarked that TV cameras would have to be rolled into the Court "over his dead body." But the actual threat to the sanctity of the judicial process that TV cameras pose has been greatly exaggerated.

...the actual threat to the sanctity of the judicial process that TV cameras pose has been greatly exaggerated.

One of the biggest arguments put forward by opponents of televised proceedings is that cameras will cause questioning during oral arguments to devolve into the sort of show trial many congressional hearings turn into, complete with grandstanding, quips and pithy one-liners. But the introduction of television cameras into the courtroom wouldn't change the way the justices act.

It's not as though the justices have ever really shied away from grandstanding, quips and pithy one-liners. For instance, during oral arguments for Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, Justice Alito gave an attorney arguing to uphold a ban on political attire in voting stations a roasting that would put even the most sharp-tongued congressperson to shame, and on the liberal side of the bench, Justice Sotomayor is known for her own aggressive style of questioning.

But unlike members of Congress, the justices aren't up for reelection. They don't need to toe a party line, come up with sound bites off of which to fundraise, or worry about getting primaried. This is by design, and in Federalist No. 78, Alexander Hamilton remarked how such lifetime appointments, on the condition of good behavior, were necessary "to secure a steady, upright, and impartial administration of the laws." The introduction of TV cameras wouldn't destroy this carefully-crafted separation of powers, nor would it compel the Court to act more like a legislative body attuned to ever-shifting public opinion.

It's not like the justice's questions aren't available to the public, anyway. Provided they get in line soon enough, visitors are allowed to view oral arguments, and audio recordings have been accessible online since 1999. The justices already know that they're being recorded, and the mere addition of a visual component does nothing to change that.

Televised oral arguments will lead to a more-informed public.

Televised oral arguments will lead to a more-informed public. Even today, many members of the public, for example, don't know that Citizens United was a First Amendment case and think you can't say fire in a crowded theater. Stripped of the complex constitutional and legal issues at stake in the cases, people root for substantive outcomes based on their political inclinations and believe that the justices basically act as a glorified legislature.

Televised proceedings will expose more Americans to issues of precedent and legal philosophy and better demonstrate the functional differences between the legislative and judicial departments. While this of course could be done through one's own reading or listening to the audio recordings, most Americans clearly have a preference for television. Indeed, in 2018, Nielsen found that the average American adult watches six hours of video per day, whereas the average adult only spends less than half an hour reading per day.

However, when it comes to educating the public, greater media exposure can cut both ways. As pointed out by the late Justice Scalia, once media outlets get their hands on visual recordings of the justices, they are free to run them through the spin machine, taking quotes out of context and reducing entire opinions to 15-second snippets. This would be a good point if this weren't already the status quo. Media personalities already reduce entire opinions to a few sentences and use bad-faith arguments to admonish justices for decisions with which they disagree.

All else being equal, video recording of Court proceedings would be worth it, even for those few diligent citizens.

At the end of the day, giving the media actual video to work with won't make much of a difference. And even Scalia recognized that there will be some Americans willing to sit through and watch proceedings "gavel to gavel." All else being equal, video recording of Court proceedings would be worth it, even for those few diligent citizens.

Finally, allowing video cameras in federal courtrooms is not without precedent. Television cameras are ubiquitous in state supreme courts across the country. According to a report by the Federal Judicial Center (FJC) on a pilot program allowing cameras in federal district courts in the 1990s, the presence of cameras did not affect the behavior of judges, lawyers, witnesses, or jurors. The Covid-19 pandemic now provides the Supreme Court with an opportunity to see if this holds true at the highest level.

History is made every time the Supreme Court comes into session. Americans deserve to see it happen.

Michael Rieger is a student at Georgetown University Law Center and a contributor for Young Voices. Follow him on Twitter at @EagerRieger.

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Protests following the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr quickly devolved into violence, rioting, and looting in Philadelphia, and BlazeTV's Elijah Schaffer was there to document what the mainstream media won't. But while filming the carnage inside a Five Below on Tuesday, Elijah was surrounded and attacked by looters.

Elijah joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Wednesday to detail his experience and to explain why mainstream media efforts to downplay the violence just show that independent media has never been more important.

"Unfortunately, [the attack] escalated from one person to about a dozen very quickly," Elijah explained. "I'm actually really happy to be alive. Because in that same shopping center, right there, there was a 15-year-old girl who was shot, according to reports. And I heard multiple gunshots throughout the night. Another individual is reported to have heard a gunshot as well, so we try to confirm. I watched people get pummeled beyond belief."

Glenn asked Elijah to respond to mainstream media claims that conservatives are exaggerating the looting and violence in Philadelphia.

"It's so funny to hear people that aren't there try to counter what we're reporting," Elijah replied.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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In the final days before the 2020 election, President Donald Trump is gaining among black voters, particularly men, because his record of accomplishments "speaks for itself" and the "façade" that President Trump is a racist "just doesn't ring true," argued sports columnist Jason Whitlock on "The Glenn Beck Radio Program" Tuesday.

Jason, who recently interviewed the president at the White House for OutKick.com, shared his thoughts on why he believes many black Americans — notably celebrities such as Kanye West, Ice Cube, and 50 Cent — are breaking from the "façade" that President Trump is a "flaming racist."

"I really believe the facts are starting to speak for themselves, and that Donald Trump's record of accomplishments, particularly as it relates to African Americans, speaks for itself," Jason told Glenn. "He actually has a record to stand on, unlike even Barack Obama. When [Obama] was president, I don't think he had much of a record to stand on, in terms of, 'Hey, what did he actually deliver for African Americans?' President Trump has things he can stand on and, you know, beyond that I think black people understand when he starts talking about black unemployment rate. And America's unemployment rate. And then, when you add in for black men, the façade we've been putting on [President Trump] … you know, this whole thing that he's some flaming racist, it just doesn't ring true."

Jason suggested that Trump's fearlessness, unabashed masculinity, and record of keeping his promises resonates with men in the black community. He also weighed in on how media and social media's bias plays a huge role in convincing people to hate President Trump while ignoring Antifa and others on the Left.

"I keep explaining to people, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, they're some of the most secular places on earth. And we've reduced everyone to a tweet, that we disagree with," he added.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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Megyn Kelly is not happy about the "disgusting" media coverage of President Donald Trump, specifically pointing to Lesley Stahl's "60 Minutes" interview on CBS Sunday.

On the radio program, Megyn told Glenn Beck the media has become so blinded by the "Trump Derangement Syndrome" that they've lost their own credibility — and now they can't get it back.

"It's disgusting. It's stomach-turning," Megyn said of the media's coverage of the president. "But it's just a continuation of what we've seen over the past couple of years. Their 'Trump Derangement Syndrome' has blinded them to what they're doing to their own credibility. They can't get it back. It's too late. They've already sacrificed it. And now no one is listening to them other than the hard partisans for whom they craft their news."

Megyn also discussed how she would have covered the recent stories about Hunter and Joe Biden's alleged corruption. Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:


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