In response to a question from a 12th grade student from Thomas Jefferson High School (VA) today, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia spoke out against opening up the Supreme Court to cameras.
If I thought that a large number of the American people would indeed watch our proceedings, it would probably be done by C-SPAN. My friend Brian Lamb is always after me to allow a vote to allow these proceedings to be televised. …
But if you watched all of what we do, you’d realize that most of the time, 95 percent of the time, we are dealing with really dull lawyerly stuff like the Internal Revenue Code, the bankruptcy code … Stuff that only a lawyer could love or understand.
So it really would be educational. But for every one citizen who watched C-SPAN, gavel-to-gavel, there would be 100,000 who would watch a 15-second take out from the C-SPAN feed and I guarantee you that that 15 second take out would not be characteristic of what we do. It would be man bites dog. So why should I participate in the miseducation of the American people?
Scalia also rejected the idea of cameras in civil and criminal courts.
To make entertainment out of real people’s legal troubles seems to me to be really sick. If you want entertainment, hire actors. Put on Perry Mason or something. I don’t think it’s right to make enjoyment out of litigation, civil or criminal.
The event was carried live on C-SPAN as part of it’s series, “Students and Leaders.”