The Revolution Won’t Be Televised
March 19, 2012 Leave a comment
A while back, I noted the U.S. Supreme Court has done more than it’s fair share to contribute to the divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” in our society.
The President and the U.S. Congress receive much of the blame in the “one percent v. 99 percent” debate because they can be seen sweating under the glare of the television spotlight. They can be held accountable. But the nation’s highest Court conveniently refuses to allow its proceedings to be televised.
Now the Court has issued a press release that makes it clear it will not allow television cameras when it hears arguments on President Obama’s health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, on March 26, 27, and 28. The law is being challenged by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. Instead, the Court will provide the audio recordings and transcripts of the oral arguments on the Court’s website, www.supremecourt.gov.
The audio recordings and transcripts undoubtedly will be of interest to a few law students and historians but most people today “watch” their news on television or the Internet. Refusing to be televised is akin to insisting in 1440 that the bible be penned in ink by monks, longhand, rather than printed on the newfangled Gutenberg printing press.
A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll found that 72% of the people surveyed think the Court should allow cameras to televise oral arguments on the health care law.
Many Americans are dismayed by the tawdry spectacle of the on-going Presidential race – which is infused with money funneled through superpacs from foreign countries and their lobbyists. How many know that this is the direct result of the Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010), which held that corporate funding of “independent” political broadcasts in elections is protected speech under the First Amendment? Many on both sides of the political aisle believe the Citizens United ruling is literally one of the worst rulings in history and reflects a Court that is sadly out of touch.
Could the Court be unaware of the deleterious effect of the Citizen’s United ruling on our country? One could make a compelling argument that televising court proceedings would not only be good for America but also for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Of course, any argument would less than compelling if it consisted of an audio recording and transcript buried on an institutional web site.