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Senators Ask Supreme Court To Televise Health Care Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC on June 18.
Saul Loeb
AFP/Getty Images
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, DC on June 18.

Two members of the Senate's Judiciary Committee are asking the Supreme Court to provide live coverage of its proceedings when it hands down its decision on the constitutionality of the 2010 health care law.

The ruling is expected by the end of the month, but as NPR's legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg told Mark in March, the Supreme Court has never allowed live broadcasts for fear that it could lead to "mistaken impressions" or lead to a decline in the quality of debate.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican ranking member, and Patrick Leahy, the Democratic Chairman, sent a letter (pdf) to Chief Justice John Roberts yesterday asking the high court to reconsider.

They wrote in part:

"We believe that the issues in the case are as important and consequential as any in recent Court history. In conducting its review, the Court directed parties to address the constitutionality of the act, the severability of the individual mandate, and the extent of the spending power of Congress. Given the fundamental constitutional questions raised and the effects the decision will have, the Court should be aware of the great interest Americans have in the outcome of this case.

"Broadcasting the Court's ruling would permit millions of citizens the opportunity to view what so few can from the court's small and limited public gallery. Modern technology makes televising the proceedings simple and unobtrusive. A minimal number of cameras in the courtroom, which could be placed to be barely noticeable to all participants, would provide live coverage of what may be one of the most historic rulings of our time. We believe permitting the nation to watch the proceedings would bolster public confidence in our judicial system and in the decisions of the Court."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.