Colbert presses Justice Breyer to allow cameras in Supreme Court

“The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert pressed Justice Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerGorsuch: Americans should remember political opponents 'love this country as much as we do' McConnell: GOP would 'absolutely' fill Supreme Court seat next year Juan Williams: McConnell's Supreme Court hypocrisy MORE on the Supreme Court's ban on cameras in an interview Monday.

“Why can’t we watch you if the Supreme Court repeatedly rules that we can be watched by the government?” Colbert asked.

Breyer, who was promoting his new book, "The Court and the World," gave a long list of reasons why the ban should remain in place but admitted a change could unlock a “fabulous educational process.”


Breyer said oral arguments make up only about 5 percent of the decision process in a case and admitted “we don’t know what the reaction exactly would be among the lawyers and others” if cameras were allowed. 

“The rule of law, the rule of interpretation, it applies to everybody,” Breyer said. “But human beings correctly and decently relate to people they see. And they’ll see two lawyers and they’ll see two clients. Will they understand the whole story? Will they understand what we’re doing? Will there be distortion?”

“Now that’s the arguments against you. The argument for you is it would be a fabulous educational process,” the justice added. 

Delayed audio recordings and transcripts of oral arguments are made available to the public. But the justices are almost universally against opening up the court to cameras. In the past, Breyer has predicted eventually a new generation will open up the process. 

Some lower courts, such as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, have begun to livestream their oral arguments with little incident. 

Congress has introduced legislation that would allow cameras in all open sessions, unless a majority of justices voted that the coverage could violate the due process rights of a party involved in a particular case. However, there has been no real movement on the issue in the recent terms.