One of the surprising side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is how much it revealed about teleconferencing and working remotely. After years of advocates noting that working from home was easy for most people and wouldn’t impact productivity, the data has now borne these claims out. One workplace that has been feeling serious impact by the pandemic is the Supreme Court.
Rather than postpone their session, the Supreme Court decided to hear arguments over teleconferencing. This was unprecedented, and not without its share of awkward hiccups. However, it has allowed the public to listen in on the court’s proceedings in real-time. This is the closest the American public has ever been to its own high court.
Advocates Applaud Transparency
Advocates for more transparent federal courts have applauded the Supreme Court’s move to live audio. Gabe Roth, the director of Fix the Court, has stated that it’s a great step in the right direction.
“If you want to not only understand what’s going on at the court, but also see and hear an institution that by and large works, that is trying the best it can to get to find the solution that will get a majority of justices to stand behind, that’s something that is often lost on folks if we don’t have that visual or audio media coming out in real time,” Roth stated.
Roth notes that, in the increasingly partisan environment in modern America, the Supreme Court can be a great role model. There, even justices who disagree with one another are often not outwardly disagreeable. Since the justices serve for life, they find ways to voice their dissent without attacking one another.
Should the Supreme Court Keep the Live Audio Feed?
Much like some office workers are now requesting to simply work at home, many legal scholars have noted the Supreme Court should keep the live audio even after the pandemic. The level of access it gives for legal scholars and lawyers is unprecedented, and a net positive. Now, those who wish to study case law and precedence can listen to the live oral arguments.
The Supreme Court is, famously, resistant to calls for transparency and adoption of new technology. Part of that is the austere and weighty nature of what the court does. They’re the highest court in the land.
Of course they do things like they used to: they’re adhering to centuries of tradition. However, in the modern era, that tradition can be in harmony with new technological advancements.