With lifetime tenure, justices of the U.S. Supreme Court go about their business in a circumspect way as they serve an institution that has its professional focus firmly on the past. Although they are not immune to the winds of public opinion, the justices are at once the most public of figures and also the most secretive — not even allowing TV cameras to broadcast oral arguments before them.
That is a continuing sore point in a modern nation that increasingly values openness. A group called the Coalition for Court Transparency — an alliance of media and legal organizations — has launched a TV ad campaign calling on the justices to allow cameras in their exalted courtroom. The ads are slated to run through March 10 in the Washington, D.C., market on CNBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.
A small, tradition-steeped group that seeks to retain its aloofness might not seem an ideal target for a TV ad campaign. Do the justices even watch TV?
But ordinary Americans who have the greatest interest in the high court and deserve to see its operations do watch. Maybe the ad campaign can whip up enough public opinion that even the most isolated justice will be forced to pay attention.