Senators call for cameras in federal courtrooms

Senators call for cameras in federal courtrooms
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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyDems delay Senate panel vote on Supreme Court nominee Grassley wants details on firm tied to controversial Trump dossier This week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat MORE (R-Iowa) and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharFCC: Over 12,000 callers couldn’t reach 911 during AT&T outage Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing Dems land few punches on Gorsuch MORE (D-Minn.) are calling for cameras to be allowed in federal courtrooms.

The bipartisan duo on Wednesday introduced the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act to give all federal courts, including the Supreme Court, the option of allowing their judicial proceedings to be photographed, recorded, broadcast or televised.

It would be up to the judge presiding over the case to decide whether cameras are allowed. In the circuit courts of appeal where cases are heard by a panel of judges, the senior judge would make the decision, and in the Supreme Court it would be up to the chief justice.

The presiding judge, however, would not be allowed to permit cameras if a majority of the judges on the Supreme Court or on a federal appeals court believe doing so would jeopardize the rights of either party in the case. 

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“Federal courtrooms represent a place to find justice and to resolve disputes fairly. They also represent the birthplace of decisions that can impact the lives of Americans for generations,” Grassley said in a statement.

“Yet many Americans may never have a chance to step foot in a courtroom and witness the judicial process in person.”

After three years, the legislation would expire to give Congress time to evaluate how media access is impacting the federal judiciary.

“The public has a right to see how courts function and reach their decisions. Democracy must be open,” Klobuchar said.

“Allowing television cameras inside the courtroom would boost public confidence in government and promote a well-informed and well-functioning democracy.”