Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Supreme Court Resistance To Cameras In Its Courtroom

Lisa McElroy, Drexel University School of Law, has published Cameras at the Supreme Court: A Rhetorical Analysis as Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law Research Paper No. 2011-W-02. Here is the abstract.

For many years, the Supreme Court has resisted cameras in its marble palace, the temple on the hill. In studying the reasons that the Justices give for refusing cameras at the Supreme Court, it becomes apparent that their resistance is more about maintaining mystique than about defensible concerns, such as security or legitimacy. In fact, cameras at the Supreme Court would help to alter Americans’ perceptions of the institution as a removed sort of aristocracy to a view of the Court as an integral part of democracy. Privacy and secrecy do not preserve public confidence in the Court, but may actually diminish it. The public’s interest in seeing its government at work outweighs any interests the Justices may have in preserving the Court’s mystique. 

This article conducts a rhetorical analysis of the Court’s story of majesty and disengagement from the public – one similar to that of the Oracle at Delphi – and suggests how cameras would transform that story to one in which the Justices are human and fallible but committed to the rule of law as a cornerstone of a constitutional democracy.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/media_law_prof_blog/2011/12/supreme-court-resistance-to-cameras-in-its-courtroom.html

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