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American Opinion: On the Supreme Court

An excerpt from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States:

By The Associated Press

On the Supreme Court:

With the retirement of Justice David Souter from the U.S. Supreme Court, the time has come to open the court to television coverage. Souter infamously told a congressional committee in 1996 that "the day you see a camera come into our courtroom, it's going to roll over my dead body."

His colleagues have not been as adamant, though most remain camera-shy. But these old phobias have proven invalid in televised cases before lower courts. When citizens can watch televised deliberations of their municipal zoning board regarding a variance for the location of a doghouse, it makes little sense to deny citizens the right to see momentous oral arguments before America's highest court.

In a letter to Sonia Sotomayor, nominated to replace Souter on the bench, Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., wrote: "The keen public interest is obvious since the Supreme Court decides the cutting-edge questions of the day such as: who will become president; congressional power; executive power; defendants' rights -- habeas corpus, Guantanamo; civil rights -- voting rights, affirmative action; abortion."

And he wrote, "In an electronic era where the public obtains much, if not most, of its news and information from television, there is a strong case in my judgment that the Supreme Court of the United States should have its public proceedings televised just as the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are televised."

Specter noted that Justice Anthony Kennedy has called the use of cameras in the court "inevi-table." If they are inevitable, unobtrusive and important to the understanding and trust of the American people in the judicial system at the highest level, then why not now?

-- Jacksonville (Ill.)Journal-Courier