Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., says it’s full steam ahead for his effort to require the Supreme Court to allow televised broadcast of its proceedings, in spite of a newly announced experiment with camera access in lower federal courts.

In an exclusive interview with The National Law Journal, Specter dismissed the Judicial Conference’s new pilot program for civil trials in district courts as a “will o’ the wisp” that does not change his determination to pass his own legislation on cameras in the Supreme Court.

“I don’t think it’s very meaningful,” Specter said of the Judicial Conference project unveiled Tuesday, adding that in his view, televising Supreme Court proceedings is an easier call than broadcasting trials, where issues of juror and witness safety are a concern.

The Senate Judiciary Committee in April approved two Specter-sponsored bills on cameras in the high court. One, S. 446, would require the Court to allow cameras, while the other, S. Res. 339, would merely urge the Court to do so. At the time, Specter indicated he would press for the resolution first as a more modest approach that would win passage more easily.

But in his interview Tuesday, Specter said he has decided to press for the bill requiring cameras, not the more permissive resolution. “I don’t think the resolution will be meaningful to the Court,” Specter said. Specter said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has told him the bill will be voted on this year, and he has hopes the House of Representatives will act, too.

Critics have raised separation-of-powers questions about Congress requiring the Court to take such a step, but Specter shrugged off those concerns. …

Read the full text of this article on The National Law Journal‘s Supreme Court Insider newsletter.

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