Lights, Cameras, ... Action in the Court
Not everyone can say they've attended a session of the United States Supreme Court; I'm one of the lucky ones who has.
I just missed my shot at the Bush v. Gore arguments as a reporter, but my day came in 2006 when I worked for the Massachusetts Attorney General and attended arguments for what would be the Court's first climate change ruling. (We won, naturally.)
As a student of government, politics and the media, I've always been fascinated by the court, so of course it was awe-inspiring for me. But the thing is, anyone who has ever seen an oral argument pretty much agrees.
It's a truly unique form of democracy where advocates at the top of their game get to go head-to-head with a clock running and well-prepared judges, most at the top of their game, interject, interrupt and rattle them with questions of fact, law and politics. It's like Prime Minister's question time in Parliment meets Congress with the clock of a presidential debate.
Oh, and the rulings of these nine robed men and women often have a more direct and immediate impact on real people than anything the President or Congress does.
Which is why SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan's comments in support of at last allowing cameras in the courtroom were such music to my ears. Kagan led with my main argument: that when you see the arguments yourself, it's democracy at its finest. As someone who argues before the court regularly as Solicitor General, you'd think Kagan might bore of the drama of it.
On the contrary, while acknowleging some issues might "put you to sleep," she said, "I think it would be a terrific thing to have cameras in the courtroom (because) ... when you see what happens there, it's an inspiring sight."Continued on the next page