Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., has been a longtime advocate of televising sessions of the U.S. Supreme Court, a quest that has repeatedly fallen on deaf ears across First Street NE.
But Specter noted Thursday that the justices haven't exactly been camera shy.
In a speech on the Senate floor, he said that Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice John Paul Stevens have appeared in interviews on ABC's "Primetime," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on CBS News, Justice Stephen Breyer on "Fox News Sunday," and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas on CBS's "60 Minutes." All the justices, he added, were recently interviewed on C-SPAN.
"We cannot accept the justices' plea for anonymity when they so regularly appear before the camera," Specter said in his prepared remarks.
The former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is hoping to line up his colleagues behind a resolution he introduced Thursday that would get the "sense of the Senate" on cameras in the Court. He so far has seven co-sponsors, including Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who is the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a former state Supreme Court justice. No vote on the resolution has been scheduled.
Specter pointed to several reasons why he thinks the tide is turning: camera opponent David Souter has retired from the Court, several sitting justices said during their confirmation hearings that they would be open to televising sessions, and the new high court of the United Kingdom allows cameras.
Previously, Specter has pushed legislation that would require the Supreme Court to allow television coverage, but the legislation never won Senate approval. The new resolution, he said, is a more "restrained and modest approach."
Click here (PDF) for a copy of Specter's prepared speech, which doubles as a critique of some of the Court's recent rulings and of its reduced workload.