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Ten years ago, Supreme Court Justice David Souter said cameras would roll into the Supreme Court “over my dead body.” Souter is still alive and well, but votes by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week may have brought the day closer when high court proceedings will be broadcast. Bills aimed at requiring the televising of Supreme Court proceedings and permitting the televising of federal courts in general were endorsed by the committee March 30. Last fall the full House passed a bill similar to the current legislation, which would give the chief judge or justice in each federal court broad discretion to allow or bar camera access. But advocates in the long struggle to put cameras in the courts are not popping the champagne just yet. Bruce Collins, vice president and counsel of C-SPAN, expects the judiciary to push back against the legislation before any final action. “As good an idea as this is, there’s a long road to go yet,” says Collins. But the bipartisan 12-6 committee vote in favor of the Supreme Court bill suggests some senators won’t give in easily to pressure from judges. Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) sponsored the bill to make the point that if the justices are going to behave like a “super-legislature,” they should operate more in the open.
Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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