The Federation of American Scientists has made available on its website a report by the Congressional Research Service entitled Televising Supreme Court and Other Federal Court Proceedings: Legislation and Issues (updated November 8, 2006).
"The Supreme Court has never allowed live electronic media coverage of its proceedings, but the Court posts opinions and transcripts of oral arguments on its website. The public has access to audiotapes of the oral arguments and opinions that the Court gives to the National Archives and Records Administration. Currently, Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibits the photographing or broadcasting of judicial proceedings in criminal cases in federal courts. The Judicial Conference of the United States prohibits the televising, recording, and broadcasting of district trial (civil and criminal) court proceedings. Under conference policy, each court of appeals may permit television and other electronic media coverage of its proceedings. Only two of the 13 courts of appeals, the Second and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals, have chosen to do so. Although legislation to allow camera coverage of the Supreme Court and other federal court proceedings has been introduced in the current and previous Congresses, none has been enacted."
"This report also discusses the arguments that have been presented by proponents and opponents of electronic media coverage of federal court proceedings, including the possible effect on judicial proceedings, separation of powers concerns, the purported educational value of such coverage, and possible security and privacy concerns. Finally, the report discuses the various options Congress may address as it considers legislation, including which courts should be covered, whether media coverage should be authorized or required, possible security and privacy safeguards, and the type of media coverage that would be permitted."
For the sake of comparison, on my blog Library Boy, I have some earlier posts on TV cameras in Canadian and British courtrooms, including:
- Report on TV Cameras in Ontario Courtrooms (August 24, 2006): "A report released today by Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant recommends that cameras be allowed in some courts in the province. This would include TV cameras. The list of Courts would cover the Ontario Court of Appeal and lower courts where no witnesses would be examined."
- UK Courts to Accept TV Cameras (November 14, 2006): "Proposals that could lead to television cameras being installed in courts could soon be set out by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, head of the judiciary…. (U)nder relaxed rules, court proceedings that could be televised include: appeals; civil proceedings — opening and closing arguments, judge’s ruling; Crown Court trials— opening speeches, closing speeches, judges’ summing up, passing of sentence; appeals in family cases but not those involving children. A consultation paper should be ready by Christmas."