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Bill would televise Supreme Court

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A bipartisan pair of senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee has introduced legislation Monday that would put TV cameras inside the Supreme Court.

The “Cameras in the Courtroom Act” would require television coverage of public court proceedings unless a majority of justices rule that doing so would violate the due process rights of one or more of the parties before the court. The measure only would apply to open sessions of the Supreme Court – sessions where members of the public are already invited to witness in person.

The bill’s sponsors —  Sen. Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and the committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa — said allowing cameras in the court would increase public scrutiny of the court’s proceedings and produce greater accountability, transparency and understanding of the judicial system.

“In a democratic society that values transparency and participation, there can be no valid justification for such a powerful element of government to operate largely outside the view of the American people,” Mr. Durbin said.

“Nine Justices have a tremendous amount of influence on the lives of the people of this country, yet people know very little about the highest court in our country,” added Mr. Grassley.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts will hold a hearing on the bill at 10 am Tuesday.

A similar bill was approved by a bipartisan majority of the Judiciary Committee last Congress but failed to clear the full Senate.

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