You Have a Face Made for Written Legal Opinions


Earlier this month, Justices Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas appeared before the House Appropriations Committee to argue against televising Supreme Court proceedings. Their protestations ranged from concerns about "etiquette" to Kennedy's explanation that "in our branch, we are judged by the way we write." Writing in the Washington Post, agressively pro-camera Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) manages to turn the issue into an intra-branch catfight, ruefully asking "does the Supreme Court respect Congress?" and pleading that Congress needs a TV-watching public to protect its feeble members from Supreme bullying. Nat Hentoff, ignoring Specter, tears into the anti-camera ramblings of Kennedy, Thomas, and Souter on different grounds:

Is Kennedy all that satisfied with the accuracy and contextual reporting on his own written opinions and dissents? At least Kennedy, before the House subcommittee, was not as vehement in his opposition to television in oral arguments as Justice David Souter was in his previous testimony there, when he pledged famously—or rather, infamously—that if television were allowed in his courtroom, it would be over his dead body.

He obviously doesn't realize—nor does Kennedy—that this magisterial courtroom is not a private condominium…

Justice Clarence Thomas told the subcommittee that there would be security concerns and "members of the court who now have some degree of anonymity would lose their anonymity."

If he's that concerned about anonymity, maybe he should get another kind of day job.

Hentoff tells Reason who belongs on the Supreme Court here.