Quigley, Panel Urge Supreme Court to “Broadcast Justice”
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-05), Chair of the Transparency Caucus and a practicing attorney before becoming a member of congress, held a briefing on the need for video and live audio in the Supreme Court. Rep. Quigley also announced that he will lead a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts urging the Supreme Court to allow video and live audio in the chamber in light of the upcoming same-sex marriage cases. Today’s briefing, titled “Broadcasting Justice: A Discussion about Cameras and Audio in the Supreme Court,” was the first caucus briefing of the 114th Congress.
Rep. Quigley, along with Rep. Gerald Connolly (VA-11), gave opening remarks, followed by a panelist discussion. Panelists included David Fontana, Associate Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School; Michelle Schwartz, Director of Justice Programs, Alliance for Justice; Katie Townsend, Litigation Director, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; and Daniel Schuman, Policy Director, Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
“Supreme Court decisions on major cases from Brown v. Board of Education to Bush v. Gore have significantly shaped American society and changed history. Unfortunately, antiquated practices and policies have left the American public unable to tune-in to Supreme Court arguments in real time,” said Rep. Quigley. “Arguments and decisions that affect the lives of millions of Americans and can change the future of our country, like the case on same-sex marriage that will be heard this summer, should be readily available to the public. As Justice Brandeis said, ‘sunlight is the best of disinfectants.’ That’s why I founded the Transparency Caucus and have introduced legislation to make the government more open across all branches. In 2015, with so much new and innovative technology, it is time we use every tool available to preserve America’s judicial history and to provide video and live audio to the American public.”
“Currently, the Supreme Court allocates a mere 50 seats for the general public to view open proceedings, creating a perception of secrecy unworthy of the third branch of our government," said Rep. Connolly. "There is much to be gained and nothing to be lost by giving the public and the media direct and unfiltered access to the deliberations that come before the Court.”
"Live video broadcast of Supreme Court proceedings is an overdue first step towards rebuilding the American people's trust in its highest court," said Daniel Schuman, Policy Director for the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The bipartisan Transparency Caucus serves as a resource for Members of Congress on bipartisan, open government initiatives. The caucus promotes legislation that requires federal information to be freely accessible, as well as advocates for new initiatives that support transparency.
Rep. Quigley has been advocating for a more open and transparent Supreme Court since his arrival in Washington in 2009. Most recently, he re-introduced the Cameras in the Courtroom Act, requiring the Supreme Court to permit television coverage of all open sessions of the Court, this Congress with Rep. Connolly. This past year, he authored an opinion piece in the Chicago Sun-Times arguing for real time – live audio recordings during Supreme Court hearings. Rep. Quigley is the author of the landmark Transparency in Government Act, a wide-ranging good government reform bill that would bring unprecedented access and accountability to the federal government. It also includes a provision requiring the Supreme Court to live-stream audio of its proceedings. In 2013, Rep. Quigley raised the issue of permitting video transmission of SCOTUS’ public argument sessions directly with two Supreme Court justices during a House Appropriations Committee hearing.