Weekly Video Address: Cameras Provide Public Access and Accountability to Federal Courtrooms Print
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 16:32

Advisory for Iowa Reporters and Editors

Friday, December 9, 2011

During his weekly video address, Senator Chuck Grassley discusses a bill he introduced requiring the Supreme Court to broadcast and televise court proceedings.  By allowing cameras in the Supreme Court, the American people would have access to a court that few have the opportunity to see in person. In addition, access to the Supreme Court through audio and video coverage would help provide the public with an educational experience about our federal judicial system and the laws that are debated before the court. Grassley is also the author of legislation to grant federal judges the authority to allow cameras in other federal courtrooms.

Click here for audio.

Here is the text of the address:

This week a Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing about public access to the Supreme Court.  In conjunction with the hearing, I introduced a bill requiring the Supreme Court to broadcast and televise court proceedings.

This new bill goes with legislation I’ve sponsored for more than 10 years to grant federal judges the authority to allow cameras in other federal courtrooms.  That sunshine legislation has been passed many times by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it’s passed with bipartisan support.

The Judiciary Committee also has supported broadcast coverage of the Supreme Court.  The bill I introduced this week was previously sponsored by former Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.  Just last year, the Supreme Court started releasing audio recordings of its proceedings at the end of every week, a step in the right direction.

In 1947, the Supreme Court said that what transpires in the courtroom is public property.  So, it shouldn’t be limited to the 200 people who can fit inside the chamber.

In Iowa, we’ve had broadcast coverage of the courts for more than 30 years.  The chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court testified at the Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday about the success and value of this access.  He said that “cameras expose the courts to what they are – a proud institution of justice.”  In fact, for the Iowa Supreme Court, expanded media coverage includes not only traditional broadcast but also live and archived streams of all oral arguments.

I will work for passage of both pieces of legislation and complete access to the Supreme Court and the federal courts based on what President Lincoln said, that our government is of, by and for the people.  Today, the best way to make sure government accountable to the people is to establish access and transparency.

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