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Breyer gives Britons reasons for barring cameras from Supreme Court

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    NMU         GREAT BRITAIN         Broadcasting         Aug 1, 2000    

Breyer gives Britons reasons for barring cameras from Supreme Court

  • More information needs to be gathered on the effects of cameras in the courtroom, according to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, before he will reevaluate his objections to their presence in the Court.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer says that the Court’s popularity with the public over members of Congress or journalists is a good reason not to change its stance on forbidding camera access to court proceedings.

Breyer’s comments came as he fielded questions about camera access to the Court at the American Bar Association’s mid-July convention in London, which the ABA sponsors there every 15 years to celebrate the common roots of each country’s legal systems. Breyer sat on a panel reviewing the public perception of the judicial system.

Breyer said the justices are extremely reluctant to do something that might diminish the public’s high regard for the Court. They might be lethargic about studying any changes, he said.

The Justice also noted the Court is wary of setting a precedent that would make it nearly impossible for any other court to resist allowing cameras.

Breyer added that another reason to keep cameras out is the risk of giving the wrong impression of justice.

“We wear black robes as a signal that justice is impersonal,” the New Jersey Law Journal reported Breyer as saying. The Court’s decision-making would be personalized too much in front of cameras, he said.

Finally, Breyer speculated that presidents might only appoint telegenic people to the bench if cameras were allowed. He said that he had heard this concern thirdhand made by former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos.

Breyer said that the issue is still open, and that more research on the impact of cameras in the court needs to be done before any definitive conclusions are drawn.


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