Sunday, March 25, 2012

Charles Parker: Why is High Court Justice Blind?


Judge Lance Ito.  Judge Belvin Perry.  Johnny Cochran.  Jose Baez.  Names we will not soon forget.  Why?  Cameras in the courtroom.

We learned a lot from these people – and others.  We learned how the judicial system works – and doesn’t.  We learned the minutia of the law.  We learned what a sidebar is.

Warts and all, we have been able to be witnesses of witnesses.  Kato and George and Cindy.

This week, a different kind of case begins.  It is ripe for a large viewing audience. It will be time-limited, it will have big personalities, and it is about important issues of our day.  But we are not allowed to see it live.  In fact, we are not allowed to see it at all.

The US Supreme Court begins considering a lawsuit brought by 26 states against President Obama’s flagship legislation – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  There will be an unprecedented six hours of oral arguments spread out over three days.

On Monday, the arguments will surround whether the court even has jurisdiction since no fines have yet been levied against anyone who has not complied with the law.  On Tuesday, there will be two hours of argument regarding the individual mandate – can Congress compel citizens to obtain insurance or pay a fine.  And then on Wednesday, there will be 90 minutes of the case to determine whether the rest of the law can stand if the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

We will be able to hear it – on C-Span – on same-day audio.  Not live – not on video.

It is a shame.  This case will have long-lasting effects of legislative and executive power.  This case will set new precedent for states’ rights.  This case will probably make or break a presidency.  And the Supreme Court will not let us hear it live or let us watch it at all.

In this case, while we hope justice is blind, we wish we were not..

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