Rep. Schiff: Oral Arguments on Health Care Law Should Have Been Broadcast Live

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Congressman Adam Schiff

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) issued the following statement as oral argument on the health care law begins today before the Supreme Court:

“While we may disagree about the benefits of the health care law that passed more than two years ago, we should all agree that every American deserves the opportunity to listen to the Supreme Court oral argument on the law. I was disappointed to learn that the Supreme Court declined requests to broadcast and live stream the oral argument. Every citizen should be able to watch to the Supreme Court hearings just like they tune into C-SPAN to listen to Congress debate legislation.

“Chief Justice John Roberts has already implemented many changes in how the Supreme Court operates, including posting audio recordings from hearings every week, but he can and should do more to move the Court into the 21st Century. Allowing cameras in the nation’s highest court would increase Americans’ confidence in their government and judicial system. And while Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged the importance of this specific case by promising same-day release of audio recordings, that is a poor substitute for watching the proceedings live.

“I support the legislation currently pending in the Senate that would allow cameras in the courtroom – it’s time for the Supreme Court to open their doors, not just to those that are able to attend in person, but everyone across our nation.”

The Supreme Court announced that it will not broadcast the oral argument on the health care reform law. However, the Court will release same-day audio recordings for the arguments, which are expected to last six hours over the course of three days (March 26th through 28th). Many news organizations and press freedom groups had made requests to televise the arguments. Currently, legislation is pending before the Senate, The Sunshine In The Courtroom Act of 2011 (S. 410), which would permit the Chief Justice to allow cameras into the courtroom. Two Supreme Court Justices, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, have both stated that they support broadcasting oral arguments in the Supreme Court. In 2010, Schiff questioned Justice Stephen Breyer during a Congressional hearing about increasing the use of cameras in the courtroom, especially in the Supreme Court.  Click here to watch video of the hearing.

Schiff has long been an advocate of open courts, authoring legislation (S.B. 1391) while in the State Senate to open the juvenile dependency courts and continuing to be active on the issue while in Congress.

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