April 27, 2009

Pushing transparency in the Supreme Court

While the Congress and White House continue moving towards increased transparency, the Supreme Court isn't.

Texas Representative John Culberson (R-TX), though, wants the Supreme Court to open its electronic doors:

Seemingly energized, Culberson moved on to his main point, urging the Court to go to the next level of transparency. The justices had already talked about the occasional release of oral argument audiotapes, and of plans for an improved website. Culberson said there would be "no logical distinction" between what the Court has already done, and streaming the video of oral argument on the Court's web site Suddenly, dressed in high-tech clothes, the old debate over cameras in the Supreme Court had been resurrected.

Thank you Congressman Culberson.

The Justice's problems with increased openness appear to hinge on the idea that by opening up the Court, it diminishes the stature of the institution. This criticism rings hollow. Does C-SPAN diminish Congress? Does Obama releasing weekly messages online demean his office? Hardly.

In America, public officials' activities should be as open as possible, and the Supreme Court would be wise to embrace that ideal as well.