Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, generally considered the strictest interpreter of the Constitution and one of the most conservative of the justices on the high court, told C-SPAN in an interview this past Sunday that he opposes the idea of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments being broadcast on live TV. While he admits that when he joined the court he, as a free speech advocate and staunch defender of the First Amendment, supported the televising of oral arguments, he thinks now that it would paint an inaccurate picture of the court.
C-SPAN, a cable television network that airs sessions of Congress among other political and governmental processes, has long pressed to be able to air oral arguments from the US Supreme Court on its channels.
Now, having served on the High Court, Scalia believes that televising the arguments would result in the court proceedings being reduced into unhelpful sound bites not characteristic of the court’s job as a whole and rather than educating the public would miseducate them and reinforce stereotypes that the court spends all of its time navel-gazing about abortion and other hot-button topics that really take up only a miniscule amount of the court’s time.
Scalia concedes that if the court were broadcast gavel-to-gavel, it would portray an accurate picture of what the Supreme Court does on a daily basis, but he believes that would not be the way it would be aired, because only lawyers would be interested in the sorts of things, like Internal Revenue Code and patent law, that the court spends much of their time dealing with.
Occasionally, Congress attempts to push through some legislation to make the Supreme Court’s arguments televised, but as of yet there has been no success on this matter. For now, Scalia will get his wish and the proceedings will continue without cameras present.