Sen. Arlen Specter -- remember him? -- is continuing his push to put the Supreme Court on television, giving an interview to the National Law Journal on the topic. I wrote about this a little more than a month ago, though the Law Journal article -- the bulk of it is behind a pay wall and, no, I don't have a subscription, either -- gets Specter's reaction to a new development: A pilot program for cameras in lower federal courts. If Specter's thoughts could be summed up in on word, it would be "Harumph."
In an exclusive interview with The National Law Journal, Specter dismissed the Judicial Conference's new pilot program for civil trials in district courts as a "will o' the wisp" that does not change his determination to pass his own legislation on cameras in the Supreme Court.
"I don't think it's very meaningful," Specter said of the Judicial Conference project unveiled Tuesday, adding that in his view, televising Supreme Court proceedings is an easier call than broadcasting trials, where issues of juror and witness safety are a concern.
The Senate Judiciary Committee in April approved two Specter-sponsored bills on cameras in the high court. One, S. 446, would require the Court to allow cameras, while the other, S. Res. 339, would merely urge the Court to do so. At the time, Specter indicated he would press for the resolution first as a more modest approach that would win passage more easily.
But in his interview Tuesday, Specter said he has decided to press for the bill requiring cameras, not the more permissive resolution. "I don't think the resolution will be meaningful to the Court," Specter said. Specter said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has told him the bill will be voted on this year, and he has hopes the House of Representatives will act, too.