Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Now available on the Courts Law section of JOTWELL is an essay by Prof. Howard Wasserman (Florida International) entitled SCOTUS in Focus: Two Takes on Cameras in the Federal Courts. It reviews two recent articles: Nancy S. Marder, The Conundrum of Cameras in the Courtroom, Ariz. St. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2012), and Lisa T. McElroy, Cameras at the Supreme Court: A Rhetorical Analysis, BYU L. Rev. (forthcoming 2012). The review begins:
Television cameras in the courtroom probably have been debated since there have been cameras to bring into the courtroom, with periodic spikes in attention around high-profile cases–O.J. Simpson’s criminal trial or Bush v. Gore or this term’s Supreme Court arguments on the Affordable Care Act. In the past two decades, a communications revolution has turned that occasional spike in attention into a constant drumbeat. More attention from more outlets is focused on the federal courts, particularly the Supreme Court. And video is ever-more accessible, as people can watch on a multitude of devices in a multitude of places, and ever-less obtrusive, so courtroom actors can easily be recorded without knowing it.
Yet, as Nancy Marder puts it, “the revolution has been stopped cold at the steps to the U.S. federal courthouse.” And the Justices themselves have erected and manned the barricades–rejecting calls for more open and immediate coverage of oral arguments in the obviously unique ACA cases, fighting Congress over who wields power to decide whether to allow cameras, and even jumping into disputes over cameras in the lower federal courts in high-profile cases.