Sotomayor, Kagan no longer fans of cameras at Supreme Court

The New York Times
Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were both enthusiastic about televising Supreme Court proceedings, Adam Liptak writes, but that fandom faded after they were confirmed. On “Charlie Rose,” Liptak writes, Sotomayor was “singing a different tune”:

“I don’t think most viewers take the time to actually delve into either the briefs or the legal arguments to appreciate what the court is doing,” she said. “They speculate about, oh, the judge favors this point rather than that point. Very few of them understand what the process is, which is to play devil’s advocate.”

Liptak calls that attitude an “intellectual poll tax that could just as well justify limiting attendance in the courtroom to people smart enough and diligent enough to know what is going on.” He noted that lower courts in the United States allow for cameras and that “only in the Supreme Court is there categorical resistance.”

When the court heard arguments during the contested presidential election in 2000, Poynter faculty Al Tompkins wrote, “when you’re deciding the presidency of the United States, it’s hard to see the wisdom of restricting the audience to 300.”

More recently, CNN and Fox bungled reporting the verdict of the court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act because they had to quickly make sense of the ruling. (Counterpoint: SCOTUSblog, which has been unable to get its own credential to cover the court, reported the ruling accurately.)

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  • canardnoir

    The questions the robes ask are generally aimed at misdirecting onlookers anyway. And the appearance of taking counsel to task at least sometimes means a verdict in his or her favor…

  • canardnoir

    “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

    Apparently to much transparency of government prior to their issuing their formal opinions.

  • NateBowman

    “More recently, CNN and Fox bungled reporting the verdict of the court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act because they had to quickly make sense of the ruling.”

    This is not accurate,

    They did not HAVE to quickly make sense of the ruling.

    They CHOSE to air their interpretation quickly, rather than making sure.

    From the very ScotusBlog article you link to:

    “But both CNN and Fox exposed themselves to potential failure by
    (a) treating the decision as a breathless “breaking news” event, despite the fact that everyone knew when the opinion was going to be released, while at the same time
    (b) not putting sufficiently sound procedures in place to deal with the potential complications, and
    (c) not placing more faith in the consensus view of the wire reports.
    Those errors were avoidable, and were in fact avoided by others. The wire services’ Supreme Court reporters were very experienced in breaking news reporting, and they got it right. Other news sources adapted: they simply sat out the uncertainty of the first few minutes (NPR and The New York Times), set up a system in which their would take the time to read the decision more carefully before reporting (NBC), or augmented their team with an expert (CBS).”