The arguments for keeping cameras out of the high court sound awfully thin after this week, and for the people who stood in line for days, and slept outside in the rain for a glimpse of the proceedings, the idea that what happens inside the court is too sanctified or complicated for mere mortals to understand now seems laughable. Listening to arguments that unspooled in well-trod Tea Party clever-isms, Americans who tuned in for the audio must surely recognize that what the court does isn’t all that different from what the local school board does. They just use bigger words. The notion that it’s just too hard for the average American to comprehend all the nuances of precedent and statutory interpretation rings a little hollow when neither precedent nor statute is invoked except in passing.
And to those justices who contend that they bar cameras from the room because it tempts the participants to act up, to talk in quotable “snippets,” and to showboat for the audience, I would simply suggest that the absence of cameras this week didn’t seem to limit any of it. Indeed if the justices are going to conduct themselves as though they are on a Fox News roundtable, it might be better—not worse—to allow the public to take notice of that fact.