More than 300 million Americans are affected by the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, yet there are only 500 seats available for the public to watch the court’s proceedings. It’s time the justices listened to public opinion and allow cameras in the courtroom, argues Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.
In an op-ed for the Columbus Dispatch, O’Connor writes that last month’s oral arguments concerning same-sex marriage illustrated that the “justices are lost in the 19th century when it comes to being open and transparent to the public they serve.”
Instead of watching the proceedings, we are left to speculate on the impending ruling and listen to “talking heads” analyze something they did not witness either, O’Connor says.
In 2012, the New York Times and CBS News released a poll that said 44 percent of Americans approved of how the court was working. The lack of public confidence in the court was the lowest it had been in 25 years, she says.
O’Connor states that tired, old arguments that cameras in the court would lead to grandstanding during oral arguments, detract from the “majesty and decorum of the proceedings,” and cause statements to be taken out of context should be ignored.
The Ohio Supreme Court has been broadcasting oral arguments live for 10 years, and there will come a day when all U.S. Supreme Court cases are shown live as well. It’s time for the justices to catch up, she argues.