By Sam Baker - 12/05/11 09:05 PM EST
A bipartisan Senate bill introduced Monday would require cameras in the Supreme Court — a longstanding controversy that has heightened as the court prepares to consider President Obama's healthcare law.
Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced the bill ahead of a hearing Tuesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"Nine Justices have a tremendous amount of influence on the lives of the people of this country, yet people know very little about the highest court in our country," Grassley said in a statement. "In fact, next year, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about a law that has the potential to impact every American."
The high court has scheduled nearly six hours of oral arguments about the healthcare reform law — a modern record. Arguments are expected in March and a ruling is likely to come next summer. Twenty-six states and the National Federation of Independent Business sued over the law's requirement that almost all Americans purchase health insurance, saying it's unconstitutional.
C-SPAN has asked the Supreme Court to allow cameras in the courtroom for the healthcare arguments, even if it's only a one-time deviation from the court's ban on televised proceedings. Several lawmakers have joined that push.
Durbin and Grassley's bill would only apply to court proceedings that are already open to the public. It would not, for example, require cameras in the private conferences at which the justices discuss how they will rule and which cases they should take.