Sen. Grassley Wants Chief Justice To Open Up Court Proceedings

Jul 6, 2018

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to make court proceedings more open to the public, this time in the form of audio from oral arguments.

Grassley has long advocated for cameras to be allowed in federal courts, as they are in many state courts across the country.      

Now, along with ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy,  Grassley has written a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts,  arguing that audio from oral arguments should be immediately available, instead of released at the end of the week.

"There is some mystery about the judicial branch of government." -Sen. Chuck Grassley

“Why they would need extra days to release the arguments that are made I don't know but my point of view comes from the standpoint that transparency brings accountability,” Grassley said in a weekly conference call with reporters, “and the sooner that accountability is available to the public the better off we are.”  

Grassley said there is “some mystery” surrounding the judicial branch off government.

“What’s the big mystery?” Grassley asked.   “What does a few days make any difference?”

Same-day audio recordings were recently provided in a high profile case,  Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, et al. v. Hawaii, et al, No. 17-965 (2018), which involved a ban on Muslim immigrants.  

"It's kind of been a joke between Chief Justice Roberts and me."

“By providing same-day audio for oral arguments in this case, the Court demonstrated its technical capacity to provide prompt disclosure and transparency to the American public,” Grassley wrote in the letter to Roberts.

Grassley says the issue of cameras in federal courtrooms has become a running joke between him and the Chief Justice.   Grassley appears before Roberts’s judicial conference in September each year and sometimes in March.  

The senator says he usually brings up the issue.

“Like for instance last time I said I didn't bring anything up on Supreme Court on TV,” Grassley said.   “There was a chuckle.”    

Grassley says the Chief Justice may be more open to his current request regarding audio recordings.