Legal Challenges

Supreme Court rules out television cameras for healthcare debate

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected calls to allow television cameras into its chambers during arguments over President Obama’s healthcare law.

The court said it would release same-day audio recordings of the arguments, scheduled for March 26-28. It cited the “extraordinary public interest” in the case, which could lead to President Obama’s signature domestic achievement being struck down in the midst of the campaign season. 

{mosads}The court normally releases audio at the end of the week.

The statement did not mention television cameras. Several media outlets, including C-SPAN, had asked the court to waive its policy against cameras in the courtroom just for the healthcare case. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and others supported the request.

C-SPAN said it appreciated the quick turnaround for the audio recordings but, “at the same time, we are disappointed that the Court has rejected C-SPAN’s request for TV camera coverage of the oral arguments in this landmark case.”  

“We continue to believe allowing video coverage of Supreme Court oral arguments is in the public’s best interest,” the network said. 

The Supreme Court has never allowed TV cameras into its chambers. Some justices say they fear that televising their proceedings, which are often mired in legalese, would lead future justices or attorneys to play to the cameras at the expense of a robust legal debate.

The court began releasing audio recordings of certain high-profile cases in 2000, then decided in 2010 decided to release the audio of every argument, but not until the end of the week.

This story was posted at 1:39 p.m. and updated at 3:03 p.m.


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