Senate Judiciary Committee to Ponder Court Transparency
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold an executive business meeting on Thursday to evaluate a trio of bills aimed at opening up courtrooms to television cameras. When it comes to directing some sunlight at the courts, there are many more transparency measures to consider.
For example, the Supreme Court’s website is still in need of dramatic improvement. Only the most recent opinions are available from the Court, merits and certioraribriefs are generally (if not entirely) unavailable, and the site does not incorporate modern updating techniques like RSS and XML. The Court’s recent website redesignslightly improves its functionality, but there’s a long long way to go. In addition, the Court should release audio recordings of argument the same day they occur, not require folks to get them from the National Archives after the end of the Term.
Although many of the lower courts do a better job than the Supreme Court, they too could spiff up and make more user-friendly the information they provide to the public. And the pay-per-use PACER system, whereby the public is charged to access their own court documents, should be made available to the public for free.