Monday, October 28, 2013
Courts - "At SCOTUS, tradition trumps technology, and transparency"
Robert Barnes writes today in the Washington Post at length about:
... an event called “Today’s Supreme Court: Tradition v. Technology and Transparency”comparing state supreme courts which broadcast their oral arguments with the SCOTUS. Every reason the SCOTUS has given for not broadcasting was effectively refused at the event. And more:
Tony Mauro, the National Law Journal correspondent who has covered the court for 33 years, said barring cameras is not the only example of tradition trumping new technology.You may watch the entire one and a half hour video of the event here at C-SPAN.
Some courts live-stream audio of their arguments; except for rare occasions, the U.S. Supreme Court releases audio of its oral arguments at the end of the week (although transcripts are released within hours of the argument). Recordings of the bench announcements of court decisions aren’t available until the next term begins months later.
Financial disclosure forms for most public officials are available online. Those of the justices must be obtained from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts “on paper, for a fee, and only after the justices have been told who’s asking for them,” Mauro said.
Petitions to the court and amicus briefs in cases are not on the court’s Web site; private entities such as the American Bar Association and the unaffiliated SCOTUSblog fill the gap.
The justices provide no reason when they recuse themselves from cases. Their public schedules are not routinely distributed.
“News of their whereabouts and their health is very hit-and-miss,” Mauro said, “and dependent on how much or how little information the justices want to release.”
All of this underscores a gap between the public’s perception of the court as opaque and mysterious — as someone who covers the court, I’m often asked whether I’m “allowed to ever meet the justices” — and the justices’ views that they are the most transparent of government institutions.
To them, it’s the product that matters. They are fond of saying that all the information on which they base their monumental decisions is public record available to all who want to study it.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 28, 2013 09:44 AM
Posted to Courts in general