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Supreme Disruption


The U.S. Supreme Court is back in session and for the first time; a video has surfaced of the Court in session. The Court forbids cameras and electronic devices and the rule breaking video (which can be seen here) appears to be the byproduct of heckling by the protest group 99Rise. During the Court’s proceedings in late February, the group’s members called on the court to overturn its 2010 Citizens United decision. The group’s co-founder was removed from the courtroom and charged with disturbing the proceedings after disrupting oral arguments by pronouncing, “I rise on behalf of the vast majority of the American people who believe that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and our democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder. Overturn Citizens United. Keep the cap on McCutcheon. The people demand democracy.”, according to its website, is a grassroots organization fighting to end corruption and win real democracy through nonviolent resistance. The group also appears to have captured unauthorized video of the Supreme Court’s arguments last October.

Although I firmly believe in one’s right to protest and freedom of speech, I don’t believe that this right should extend to protect a disruption of Supreme Court proceedings. Court proceedings must be limited to the facts of the case and every precaution must be taken to insure that the decision maker is not subjected to outside influence. In this instance, the right to a fair trial outweighs the right to protest.

When it comes to the video taping of Supreme Court proceedings, I don’t see the harm in releasing a video of the entire proceeding after the fact, like the audio recordings. However, I think that more harm than good comes from secretly video taping the proceedings and releasing carefully selected bits and pieces to support that group’s position. Transparency is a vital aspect of the justice system but, it must be achieved in a manor that preserves the integrity of the proceedings.

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