Senate Committee approves pair of bills that would allow Supreme Court hearings to be televised
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The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted in favor of two bills to allow Supreme Court hearings to be broadcast on camera, a change some members of Congress support to provide more transparency into the judicial system.
The bipartisan Cameras in the Courtroom Act, the first bill, was introduced by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and backed by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
The measure passed Thursday in a 15-7 vote. Whether it will get a final floor vote is unclear.
Such bills have been introduced several times before in Congress – as far back as 1997 – but they did not succeed.
Because of the pandemic, many hearings have been conducted virtually, which allowed for live audio streaming of the Supreme Court’s oral arguments. However, with the health emergency diminishing, the high court has not said whether it intends to continue the streaming for in-person proceedings.
Some senators including Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobucher, who co-sponsored the bill, said the live access would be beneficial as it was in the recent George Floyd case, watched by millions.
On the other hand, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was hesitant about the authenticity of individuals in a room full of cameras.
“I have no doubt if there were TV cameras at oral argument, you would see the lawyers for both sides behaving differently and playing to them and, unfortunately, you would see justices behaving differently and playing to the cameras,” Cruz said. “I think it is better for our country if the Supreme Court is a little more boring and doesn’t have Judge Judy as the dynamic in the courtroom.”
Streaming of the nine justices during hearings would apply only to open sessions, which have typically been public but limited in seat capacity.
The second bill, the “Sunshine in the Courtroom Act,”would give federal judges the discretion to allow cameras in the courtroom, with a number of protections in place.
BREAKING: Jussie Smollett Granted Release From Jail During Appeal For Hate Crime Hoax Conviction
On Monday, Jussie Smollett’s lawyers demanded the actor be released from prison after he and his family received “vicious threats” that supposedly raised concern for Smollett’s safety while in jail. This request was granted on Wednesday, allowing Smollett to be released from jail on bond while his lawyers appeal his conviction for staging a hate crime and lying to the police about it.
Back in December, Smollett, 39, was found guilty on five felony counts of disorderly conduct. Last week, the disgraced actor was sentenced to 150 days in jail, restitution to the city of Chicago of $120,106, and a $25,000 fine.
During his sentencing, Smollett claimed that he was not suicidal and that if he dies while in jail, it will be the result of foul play. He also maintained his innocence during his sentencing despite the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence against him.
“Your honor, I respect you, and I respect your decision,” said Smollett,” but I did not do this, and I am not suicidal. If anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself, and you must all know that.”
Only days after being sent to the Cook County Jail, Smollett was placed in the psych ward, which prison officials claimed is standard policy for high profile criminals.
Smollett’s attorneys had insisted that he could be in danger of physical harm if he remained imprisoned at Cook County Jail, claiming their client was the target of “vicious threats”.
“Mr. Smollett has become the target of vicious threats in the social media forums which no doubt reflects the hatred and wish for physical harm towards Smollett which he may experience during incarceration,” the lawyers’ filing said.
Smollett’s brother has reportedly been “bombarded” with threatening phone calls, and the rest of the family has also received threats.
“Mr. Smollett anticipates he will most likely be assigned to segregated incarceration or protective custody, both euphemisms for solitary confinement; a situation which could have extraordinary damage on his mental health,” continued the filing. “As a result, any custodial setting poses a safety and health danger to the life of Mr. Smollett.”
Apparently, damage to a prisoner’s mental health is of the utmost importance in prison now. Jail, of course, is known to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Regardless, since he was convicted of ‘non-violent” offenses, the court is allowing Smollett to be released from Cook County Jail on a $150,000 recognizance bond, which only has to be paid if he misses a court date.
VIDEO: Kim Potter Only sentenced to 16 months in prison for 1st Degree Manslaughter
Extreme Leniency: Kim Potter was just sentenced to 24 months (2 years) in prison with credit for 8 months time served, meaning her sentence is 16 months.
Judge Regina Chu said that this was the case of a “cop who made a tragic mistake. She drew her firearm thinking it was a Taser and ended up killing a young man.”
The court approved a downward departure from the typical sentence, as Chu said Potter never intended to use her firearm and the scene painted as chaotic. (guy sitting in car)
By Minnesota law, Potter was sentenced only on the higher charge of first-degree manslaughter. The maximum charge is 15 years, but for someone with no criminal history like Potter, guidelines range from between six and eight-and-a-half years.
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