Monday, October 8, 2007

Camera's in the Supreme Court

Recently Clarence Thomas has published a book called My Grandfather's Son, a book in which he tells the story of being raised by his grandfather. I've yet to read it, but I plan to. However, I heard most of an interview he gave to his former supreme court clerk, Laura Ingram as part of his promotional tour.

One of the topics he is asked about in the interview is cameras in the supreme court. He said he does not see a benefit to the process from them, and therefore would not place them in the court room.

This bothers me. I'm a fan of transparency in process, for government and the private sector. I've contributed to wikipedia, and make an effort to always do so while logged in. My behavior online generally occurs while logged in. I encourage others to do likewise, and to publish their work on the internet, especially when they think its of no value.

Thats not to say that I do not support privacy. I accept the necessity of Wikipedia's allowing anonymous edits. I hope to never be compelled to edit wikipedia anonymously, but cherish my ability to do so if necessary. While I store a large amount of data on googles various services including gmail, this blog, and my entire search history. I'm a fan of allowing court records to be sealed after punishment is served. I also have plenty of my own secrets that I attempt to limit knowledge of.

I feel he is asking the wrong question. If it were my decision, the question I would I would ask would be, "Would having cameras in the Supreme Court hurt the process of judicial review that occurs there?" Also if so, why? If a court is afraid to reveal its process, that is cause for alarm.

I don't refer to the "closed door meetings" that are necessary in any dealing making process. People have to be allowed to caucus. Small subgroups have to be able to reach consensuses to sell the idea to the group at large. However, I feel that the actual process of lawyers arguing their briefs should be a matter of public record.

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