No Television Coverage Of SCOTUS ObamaCare Hearings

Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court has denied requests made by C-Span and other media organizations to televise the oral argument in the lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act:

The Supreme Court said Friday it will not break with tradition and allow television cameras into the courtroom for historic arguments later this month on the constitutionality of the nation’s health-care overhaul.

Instead, the court will release same-day audiotapes of the arguments, which are scheduled to consume six hours over three days, March 26 to 28.

In a press release, the court didn’t actually address the requests it has received to televise the arguments, which came from media organizations and members of Congress. Instead, it simply said that audiotapes and transcripts of the sessions would be available.

“Because of the extraordinary public interest in those cases, the Court will provide the audio recordings and transcripts of the oral arguments on an expedited basis through the Court’s Website,” the press release said.

The court has never allowed cameras in the courtroom or live broadcasts of its proceedings. The Senate Judiciary Committee last month approved a bill that called for televising the Supreme Court’s arguments. But it faces an uncertain future in part because of separation-of-powers concerns about whether one branch of the government may dictate how another conducts its business.


“The Court will post the audio recordings and unofficial transcripts as soon as the digital files are available for uploading to the Website,” the release said. “The audio recordings and transcripts of the March 26-28 morning sessions should be available no later than 2 p.m. The recording and transcript of the March 28 afternoon session should be available no later than 4 p.m.”

This is similar to the procedure the Court use several years ago in the District of Columbia v. Heller gun control case, and at least it will allow for a more immediate evaluation of the various arguments and the Justice’s reaction to them. Like I said, this is not an entirely surprising decision, the Court has never allowed cameras before and it’s unlikely they will any time soon. It would have been an interesting show to watch, though.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Neil Hudelson says:

    More evidence of the liberal media conspiracy!

  2. Stan25 says:

    Personally, I think they should take the TV cameras out of all court proceedings. The O J Simpson case and a few more have definitely shown that all the participants are not immune to playing to the camera and not paying attention to the case or the evidence.

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    If by “interesting show” you really meant to say “carnival sideshow act that would have degraded the sanctity of the offices,” then I’d be in full agreement. Let’s not be naive. If these proceedings were televised the left-wing media outlets would go into high dudgeon mode and then they’d flip their collective lids. We don’t need to see airheaded pundits on the likes of CNN and MSNBC preening, mugging and otherwise emoting as they followed along with the live TV feed from the SCOTUS chamber. It’s bad enough at the trial court level on CourtTV to witness such nonsense. In connection with such an important SCOTUS case it would have been far beyond the pale. Good decision by the Justices.

  4. Hey Norm says:

    Yes…we should base important decisions on the OJ circus.
    Cameras have been in courtrooms for decades.
    Bad case makes for bad law.

    The Titanic turns slowly. Audio and transcripts are a good compromise…and cameras, which are inevitable, will follow soon enough.

  5. Rick Almeida says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    The “liberal media” asked to have the proceedings televised so they could “flip their lids” about it?

  6. Murray says:

    “It would have been an interesting show to watch, though.”

    Which is why they rightfully don’t want cameras.

    The OJ trial was a great show, but justice was poorly served.

  7. An Interested Party says:

    The “liberal media” asked to have the proceedings televised so they could “flip their lids” about it?

    Anyone who is familiar with Tsar Nicholas should realize that logic is often lacking in his arguments…