Blumenthal and Colleagues Urge Supreme Court to Broadcast Arguments on Affordable Care Act

(Hartford, CT) –Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) today wrote to Chief Justice John Roberts urging him to allow for real time television and audio broadcasts of the oral arguments in the legal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in order to promote the public’s understanding and participation in governance.

In the letter, the Senators write: “Modern technology would easily allow for instantaneous, real-time access to the audio and video of the oral argument proceedings in this case without intrusive or inappropriate display. Such broadcasts would improve the public’s understanding of both this critical case and the role of the Court more generally. Very simply, public access would advance and enhance the democratic ideal of an informed and engaged citizenry. There is no practical reason why these proceedings cannot be made available to all Americans, and we urge you to do so. 

The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Oral arguments will likely be heard around March and a ruling on the issue is expected in June. 

The full text of letter is below:

The Chief Justice
The Supreme Court of the United States
Washington, DC 20543

Dear Chief Justice Roberts: 

Very recently, the Supreme Court agreed to consider several legal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act this term. We write to urge the Court to permit live, real-time television and audio broadcast of the oral arguments in this case when it is considered during the spring of 2012. 

            The Court’s consideration of various challenges to the Affordable Care Act marks an historic milestone in the nation’s public debate concerning a significant effort to ensure access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Provisions of the Affordable Care Act already assure that insurance companies cannot discriminate against individuals who have preexisting conditions, millions of individuals and families will see their health care costs reduced, and an array of preventive health services will be free for all Americans, among other improvements. 

            Since its passage last year the Affordable Care Act has been subject to a variety of legal challenges, including the case now before the Court. Opponents of improvements to our health care system ask the Court to strike down provisions of the new law as unconstitutional. From a legal perspective, these arguments contravene decades of settled constitutional law and precedent, and we believe that the Court will ultimately dismiss them. 

We believe that the momentous legal debate over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act should be made as widely available and accessible as possible. Doing so will improve the public’s understanding of both the Court and this vital law. It will serve to enhance the quality and breadth of public participation in governance, which is vital to our democracy. 

The oral arguments in this case are already public, but real-time access to the proceedings is typically restricted to those privileged few individuals who are able to be physically present in Washington inside the Supreme Court’s chambers on the day the case is heard. There is no reason these physical constraints should impede any interested American anywhere in the country from public access to such a vital case.

Modern technology would easily allow for instantaneous, real-time access to the audio and video of the oral argument proceedings in this case without intrusive or inappropriate display. Such broadcasts would improve the public’s understanding of both this critical case and the role of the Court more generally. Very simply, public access would advance and enhance the democratic ideal of an informed and engaged citizenry.

There is no practical reason why these proceedings cannot be made available to all Americans, and we urge you to do so. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

                Sincerely,

Senator Richard Blumenthal
Senator Dick Durbin
Senator Charles Schumer

cc:     

The Honorable Antonin Scalia
The Honorable Anthony M. Kennedy
The Honorable Clarence Thomas
The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg
The Honorable Stephen G. Breyer
The Honorable Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr.
The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor
The Honorable Elena Kagan

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