Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Lights out on high court TV On the outside looking in, Sonia Sotomayor was an enthusiastic supporter of televising oral arguments of the U.S. Supreme Court.
But things look a little different on the inside for now Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor.
At an event earlier this week in New York, Sotomayor said cameras that cover oral arguments -- but not justices' deliberations -- could be misleading.
"If people analyzed it, it is true that, in almost every argument, you can find a hint of what every judge would rule. But most justices are actually probing all the arguments," she said.
The comment about televised broadcasts being misleading is the opposite of what Sotomayor said in 2009 at her confirmation hearing for a seat on the high court.
Back then, she told senators, "I have had positive experiences with cameras. When I have been asked to join experiments of using cameras in the courtroom, I have participated. I have volunteered."
Back then, she said the issue of cameras in the high court was "important."
Today, apparently not so much.
"The process (televising proceedings) could be more misleading than helpful," Sotomayor said.
Other justices, particularly the older ones, have similar concerns that revolve around the idea that lengthy court arguments could be taken out of context by TV sound bites or otherwise be sensationalized.
Yet none of the justices seem to give enough credit to TV for its ability to educate the American people about high court proceedings. Nor do they apparently think the people capable of keeping oral arguments in their proper context.
Sotomayor's change of heart is a blow to advocacy groups, politicians from both sides of the aisle and many Americans who support cameras in the courtroom.
With other sitting Supreme Court justices disparaging cameras in the courtroom, it will be some time -- if ever -- before Americans will get an inside look into the workings of the nation's final and most august deliberative body.