Justice Stephen Breyer appeared on a television interview with CBS This Morning‘s Norah O’Donnell last Thursday night, portions of which were shown on the television program on Friday morning. Breyer argued that cameras should not be placed in the Court in part because it could change the behavior of lawyers or Justices during argument. The full transcript and some video is here.
This is a silly position. Perhaps cameras would affect behavior a bit, but that change would be marginal at best. The Supreme Court already (and thankfully) has live audiences for its oral arguments — is a lawyer arguing before the Court and more than a hundred observers really likely to be affected by the presence of a camera or two? Nor have the Justices shown any individual reticence to talk to large crowds, or in front of cameras.
Maybe the Supreme Court should just hold its oral arguments in a private room, with only counsel attending, lest the presence of anyone else in the room make the Justices uncomfortable. Or maybe they should embrace the transparency in adjudication that historically has made the United States judicial system the envy of the world.