February 19, 2013

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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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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