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Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Bill to Require TV Coverage of Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Cameras in the Supreme Court took a step forward Thursday (April 29) with Senate Judiciary Committee passage of S. 446, which would require televised coverage of oral arguments unless the court voted, on a case-by-case basis, that it would harm due process.  C-SPAN, which has been pushing courts to allow coverage, said it did not take positions on legislation, but suggested that if it did, this would be just the kind of bill it would like.

"As a matter of principle we continue to advocate for television coverage of Supreme Court oral arguments, as we have for greater openness of America's government in general," said C-SPAN VP and General Counsel Bruce Collins. "It is encouraging to see the increasing number of senators on the Judiciary Committee who share our view."

A 2009 C-SPAN poll found that two-thirds of the country wanted TV coverage of the High Court.

The committee Thursday also passed S. Res. 339, which is a resolution without force of law but expressing the sense of the Senate to the same effect as S. 446: "The Supreme Court should permit live television coverage of all open sessions of the Court unless the Court decides, by a vote of the majority of justices, that allowing such coverage in a particular case would constitute a violation of the due process rights of 1 or more of the parties before the Court," reads the resolution.