Report: Sotomayor Says Cameras in Court Could Do More Harm Than Good

Tells Crowd Cameras Would Not Capture Full Picture of What is Going On 2/08/2013 6:10 AM Eastern

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said this week that she thinks televising Supreme Court oral arguments might do more harm than good, according to New York Magazine.

"I think the process could be more misleading than helpful," she said in an event in New York promoting her new book, according to the magazine. "It's like reading tea leaves. I think if people analyzed it, it is true that in almost every argument you can find a hint of what every judge would rule. But most justices are actually probing all the arguments...Every Supreme Court decision is rendered with a majority opinion that goes carefully through the analysis of the case and why the end result was reached. Everyone fully explains their views. Looking at oral argument is not going to give you that explanation."

That is a retrenchment somewhat from her brief statement in her confirmation hearing that she had had positive experiences with cameras in the court tests before joining the high court.

There is no consensus on the court on the issue, with opinions ranging from Antonin Scalia's strong opposition, to Justice Elena Kagan's enthusiastic support. Sotomayor was sounding more like she was moving toward the Scalia camp. He has said that he thinks cameras would distort, not illuminate, the court's work via clips that do not represent the sometimes "dull, lawyerly stuff" that goes into the process. For every person who watched coverage gavel-to-gavel, he has said, "there would be 100,000 who would watch a 15-second take-out from the C-SPAN feed. And I guarantee you that the 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?"

The Justice's public statements on cameras are available here.


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