When it comes to confirming a Supreme Court justice, everything is on the table. One of the issues raised with nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh is the use of cameras during the Supreme Court’s oral arguments. Professor Jordan Singer decided to tease apart that issue in his latest post for the New England Law Review. You’ll find a preview below.
In one of the more substantive moments of this month’s Supreme Court Confirmation Theater, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was asked whether he would support broadcasting video of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments. Kavanaugh demurred, saying only that he would keep “an open mind” on the issue. Given that most members of the Supreme Court have come out against cameras in recent years, it is tempting to read Kavanaugh’s response as a polite but similarly firm vote against the use of video. But I suspect there is something more at work here, and that we should take his “open mind” characterization at face value.
To understand why, it is necessary to consider how the Supreme Court views itself in relation to its external environment. The Court (and indeed, the entire federal court system) is an organization whose primary purpose is to resolve legal disputes. To accomplish this goal, the Court needs resources, including money, staffing, and public legitimacy. But the Court has no ability to generate these resources on its own. It must obtain them from somewhere else, be it Congress, the president, the media, the bar, or the public. This is an uncomfortable position to be in, because the loss or diminution of even a single important resource can interfere with the Court’s ability to perform its basic work…
Read the rest of Professor Singer’s blog on the New England Law Review website.