Advocates hope program paves way for cameras at Supreme Court

Advocates for greater transparency and accountability at the U.S. Supreme Court are hoping the results of the federal judiciary’s four-year cameras-in-the-court pilot program will pave the way for cameras in the high court.

During the program, which ends this week, 14 federal district courts across the country allowed the video recording of civil proceedings when the judge and all parties involved in each case agreed to it.  

The Court Administration and Case Management Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States — the policy-making body for federal courts — chose which courts would participate.

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The judicial arm of the Federal Judicial Center is expected to study the results and make recommendations in a report to the Judicial Conference at its biannual session in March 2016. 

Though the Supreme Court is under no obligation to take the views of the Judicial Conference of the FJC into account, Fix the Court is hoping the results of the pilot program will convince the Supreme Court to allow video recordings of oral arguments and decisions.

“Oral argument at the Supreme Court is one of the most impressive exercises in our democracy, and it’s a shame only a handful of people get to witness it, especially when the solution to opening up the proceedings to a wider audience is as obtrusive as a wall-mounted clock,” Gabe Roth, executive director of the national nonprofit, said in a news release.

The federal judiciary, Roth said, could choose to renew the program or expand the program to federal courts of appeals.