Sotomayor Reverses Opinion on Cameras in the High Court

Cameras would do more harm than good, she says
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Cameras would do more harm than good, she says

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has publicly reversed her stance on allowing cameras in the high court during oral arguments, saying she is now against the practice, according to New York Magazine.

Allowing television cameras to capture the court’s oral arguments would do more harm than good, Sotomayor is reported to have said. “Looking at oral argument is not going to give you that explanation. Oral argument is the forum in which the judge plays devil’s advocate with lawyers,” she said.

While oral arguments are sometimes a reasonably good guide to which way each justice is leaning, they are an imperfect indicator, Sotomayor said according to the magazine. The court’s private deliberations are not open to the public, and they have frequently produced rulings that did not fall the way oral arguments had seemed to indicate, according to Sotomayor.

That is a reversal from what Sotomayor said during her confirmation hearings. At that time she said she had had “good experiences” with cameras in the courtroom and would relay those positive experiences to the rest of the court.

It is not known how Sotomayor’s opinion will affect efforts to place cameras in the Supreme Court during oral arguments. The last major effort to get cameras in the court during such arguments occurred in 2012 when members of Congress, broadcasters and advocacy groups petitioned the court to allow cameras in during arguments in the cases National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, No. 11-393; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services v. Florida, No. 11-398; and Florida v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, No. 11-400, which involved challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148), also known as “Obamacare.” Those petitions were denied.


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