The States Have Spoken: Allow Expanded Media Coverage of the Federal Courts

Mitchell T. Galloway · 21 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. 777

Abstract

Since the advent of film and video recording, society has enjoyed the ability to capture the lights and sounds of moments in history. This innovation left courts to determine what place, if any, such technology should have inside the courtroom. Refusing to constrain the future capacity of this technology, the Supreme Court “punted” on this issue until a time when this technology evolved past its initial disruptive nature. Throughout the past forty-five years, the vast majority of state courts have embraced the potential of cameras in the courtroom and have created policies governing such use. In contrast, the federal judiciary has, with few exceptions, continued to prohibit expanded media coverage. This Note suggests that cameras have evolved past the concerns of distraction and unfair prejudice in the courtroom. Additionally, this technology offers the public a window into the judiciary to see its operations and to ascertain whether it is functioning properly. Accordingly, the federal judiciary should update its policies— following the pattern of the overwhelming majority of state courts—to allow expanded media coverage of its courts.