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Lawmakers want Supreme Court health care arguments televised

Lawmakers from both parties are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to allow video coverage of oral arguments in the cases challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care overhaul next spring.

Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, sent a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts and the associate justices urging them to make an exception to the rule barring cameras in the courtroom for the health care case.

“The decision in this case has the potential to reach every American,” Grassley said in the letter.  “The law is massive in size and scope.  The effect of the law, and the Court’s decision, will reverberate throughout the American economy. …A minimal number of cameras in the courtroom, which could be placed to be barely noticeable to all participants, would provide live coverage of what may be one of the most historic and important arguments of our time.  Letting the world watch would bolster public confidence in our judicial system and in the decisions of the Court.”

Yesterday, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., echoed Grassley’s call.

“When the Affordable Care Act is placed before the highest court in our country, all Americans will have a stake in the debate; therefore, all Americans should have access to it,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Openness and transparency are essential to the success of our democracy, and in this historic debate, we must ensure the ability of our citizens to take part.”

Earlier this year Grassley, ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation that would give chief judges in federal trial and appellate courts the right to decide whether cameras would be allowed in court proceedings. The committee advanced the bill in April.

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