Grassley, Leahy urge Roberts to permanently air Supreme Court arguments

Grassley, Leahy urge Roberts to permanently air Supreme Court arguments
© Greg Nash

Two former Senate Judiciary Committee chairmen — one a Republican and the other a Democrat — are urging the Supreme Court to continue livestreaming its oral arguments after the coronavirus pandemic is over.

Sens. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Biden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3 MORE (R-Iowa) and Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), in a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday, urged the court to embrace the transparency measures it was forced to adopt amid social distancing efforts.

The two cited public opinion polls that found majority approval of the court's broadcasting of audio from its oral arguments.

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"Given this widespread support for access to our nation’s highest court — and the countless contributions it makes towards the civics education of the American public — there is no reason why pro-transparency measures should end when the Court returns to its normal functions," Grassley and Leahy wrote.

The Supreme Court's press office did not immediately respond when asked whether Roberts would care to comment.

The court, which has long resisted bipartisan calls to broadcast its oral arguments, began conducting remote arguments and making the live audio available this month as the court shuttered its normal operations.

The arguments were broadcast on C-SPAN, offering the public its first glimpse of the sessions being conducted in real time.

Grassley and Leahy urged Roberts on Friday to take the measures a step further in the future by broadcasting audio and video of all oral arguments.

"We urge you, Mr. Chief Justice, to consider our request and bear in mind all those who would benefit most — including our democracy itself — from these simple yet meaningful measures of transparency," they wrote.