Lost words from an antiquated court

Like Justice Sonia Sotomayor did yesterday, Justice Antonin Scalia read his dissent (Page 35) to today’s DOMA ruling from the bench. It’s a symbolic, but otherwise pointless, exercise, given that in 2013, live cameras and microphones are still not allowed in the High Court.

So, we’re left with this sort of nonsense. Interns racing with important nation-changing decisions, to reporters camped outside, who leaf through pages looking for one word (“affirmed” or “overturned,” for example) in an otherwise complex and intellectual document, who then will report the decision without its most critical mass: “why?”.

Absent any true dissection of the ruling, the pointyheads at a local law school are then called on to explain the decision, and then people take to Twitter or social media or talk shows to castigate the justices who sided with the position with which they disagree. And all of this happens while the words of the justices to explain their days and months of thought are lost.

Surely there must be a better way.

Sens. Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley have introduced a bill that would require all open Supreme Court sessions to be televised, unless a majority of justices agree that cameras would violate the rights of those arguing a case, which — if history is any guide — judges have been only too happy to so rule when given the options. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a co-sponsor.

“There are state supreme courts, there are foreign supreme courts that have been doing this and their reports are all really positive–that people do tune in occasionally, they watch it and they have greater faith in the judges and justices, not less,” Scotusblog publisher and co-founder Tom Goldstein told MSNBC this week.

Not in my lifetime and probably not in yours, either. None of the justices favors the newfangled technology in the Supreme Court.

After all, it’s not as if there aren’t sketch artists still at work.