Senators call for cameras in federal courtrooms

Senators call for cameras in federal courtrooms
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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks, background checks Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks MORE (R-Iowa) and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharReported pressure on CNN in Time Warner merger raises retaliation fears Dem sens demand answers over reports DOJ wanted CNN sold Ted Cruz, Debbie Dingell help Chuck Todd celebrate 70 years of 'Meet the Press' 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.”