United States of America

13 June 2020

Seven in 10 Americans want the Supreme Court to continue to broadcast live-audio oral arguments after COVID-19

At the onset of the pandemic, the United States Supreme Court adopted transparency measures such as broadcasting lauded live-audio clips of oral arguments.

These measures have been a revolution for American justice, and 70 percent of those surveyed in a poll conducted by PSB support the continuation of these measures after the pandemic, while 30 percent want to return to the judicial landscape before COVID-19.

“Additional data from news outlets that took the feeds and tracked clicks bears that out. According to numbers compiled by Reporters Committee staff, more than 880,000 people had clicked on an online stream of the May 12 Trump taxes hearings on the C-SPAN, AP, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Washington Post, Fox Business and NowThis sites by the time an audio recording would have typically been released, at 1:00 p.m. that Friday”, explains Fix the Court in a press release.

The option of hearing oral arguments in the Supreme Court was supported by 83% of respondents.

“Now more than ever, Americans see the necessity of leveraging technology to maintain our institutions”, said Adam Rosenblatt, vice president and senior strategist at PSB. “Americans of every age, race and political affiliation agree that the Supreme Court providing live audio of oral arguments is the right move now and moving forward”.

The innovative measure has been supported by a multitude of people in the United States:

“This increased transparency shld b permanent. The ppl’s biz ought 2b public!”, said Former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley in a Tweet.

“Anyone who wanted to listen to the oral argument was able to do so in real time, from the comfort of her couch or kitchen table. Indeed, many people apparently did tune in – although total numbers are hard to come by because the arguments were streamed on multiple media outlets, within a few hours of the argument session roughly 500,000 people had viewed the stream”, said Amy Howe in the Supreme Court of The United States Blog. “There’s no reason why the court shouldn’t continue with live-streaming after the COVID-19 crisis is over; there are over 300 million reasons why it should”

Dylan Hosmer-Quint, a research associate at Fix the Court said to Seattle Times that “official proceedings in a democracy ought to be open to the public, to the greatest extent possible. Congress rolls live on C-SPAN, and the White House streams everything from press briefings to presidential addresses, so the Supreme Court should likewise livestream its public proceedings”.

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