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Gorsuch Recommits to Considering Cameras in Court

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee took some time in his opening questions for the third day of hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to get him on the record once more that he was open to considering cameras in the high court.

Gorsuch had indicated as much in the previous day's hearing when queried by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is a fan of cameras in federal courts—he is a sponsor of the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act—and spent some time on the issue, joking that he might even have been working on the issue before Klobuchar was a senator. 

Grassley said last week he pointed out to justice Clarence Thomas that he had not brought up cameras in the court. Thomas answered: "We're getting off to a good start." Thomas does not support cameras.

Gorsuch had also told Klobuchar that he had not given the issue a lot of thought, so Grassley clearly wanted to give him more to mull.

"I want you to know that I believe that public access to our court system is an important issue and having cameras in the courtroom is one way to improve public access." 

Grassley said he knew it was not a very popular subject with some on the court, including former Justice David Souter, who suggested cameras would be allowed over his dead body. Grassley joked that since Souter was no longer on the court that was one less Justice in opposition. He said he respected Souter's opinion but said it was wrong.

Grassley pointed out that the Sunshine in the Courtroom Acts—there have been several—would give judges the discretion to allow cameras 

Grassley then asked Gorsuch to think about the issue and reconfirm that he would keep an open mind about allowing cameras in the Supreme Court.

Gorsuch said he had that open mind, quipping that he had gotten to know the folks manning the cameras in the nomination hearing over the past few weeks and said they were "some pretty nice folks."

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.