Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Marjorie Cohn


Though the Supreme Court allows public attendance and print media coverage of argument sessions, Supreme Court Justices have long been reluctant to allow news cameras into the courtroom. Justice David Souter famously stated, "The day you see a camera come into our courtroom it's going to roll over my dead body." This essay, originally presented as part of the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly Volume 34 Symposium: Cameras in the Court, traces the history of cameras in the courtroom and the Justices' various reasons to oppose their entry. The essay argues that it is in the Supreme Courtroom that the law of the land is made. When the Court argues about how the next President is selected, whether a woman can choose to have an abortion, whether a detainee may be held in custody for the rest of his life, or whether the government will take the threat of global warming seriously, the public has a right to be there. The essay concludes that there is no cogent reason to deny the public a window into the high court.