Like many others, I have long been troubled by the fact that the Supreme Court does not allow TV cameras or live audio coverage of the cases it hears. I know all the arguments against live video or audio coverage and I find them all quite unconvincing when weighed against the public’s right to hear the oral arguments and decisions that will have such a direct bearing on their lives and liberty. We should be allowed to see, or at least hear, these arguments and decisions as they happen.
Anyway, as I was reading through an article today in Broadcasting & Cable about how “C-SPAN Seeks Oral Argument Tapes in Fox Swearing Case,” I couldn’t help but think about how particularly ironic it was that our nation’s highest court would be considering one of the most important free speech cases in decades — FCC v. Fox — and it yet wouldn’t be allowing any of us to listen in live when it takes place on November 4th! If we are lucky, the Court might grant C-SPAN expedited access to the tapes of the arguments, but it may be that we have to wait many weeks to hear what was said.
Seems silly to me. Worse yet, it means I will have to camp out in front of the Supreme Court the night before and freeze my butt off in the hope of getting a seat in the courtroom to hear the live argument! Which brings up the final bit of irony I always like to point out about restricting cameras and microphones from courtrooms: Why are they letting anyone in the courtroom at all if they so fear instantaneous public access to the arguments?