The US Supreme Court forbids cameras in the courtroom. But apparently one intern from CNN didn’t get the memo. He was removed from the Supreme Court press room today after he was caught with a GoPro strapped to his chest.
Politico first reported on the incident this afternoon. CNN claims that the intern, Walbert Castillo, didn’t intend to record the SCOTUS proceedings before he was kicked out earlier today. Apparently Castillo was using the GoPro for an unrelated segment on CNN and forgot that he had it on when acting as a “runner” for the day.
“Runners” sit and listen to decisions from the Court and rush outside to tell their producers and on-camera talent about rulings in a race to get that info on the air. This system is the reason that so many media outlets got the Obamacare decision so spectacularly wrong in 2012 when every network was rushing to get the news out first.
Politico got a statement from CNN that says they “misunderstood the rules about recording inside the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office and acted inappropriately. We’ve taken the necessary action to remedy this situation. We profusely apologize to the Court.”
So why does the Supreme Court hate cameras? Because they think America is too dumb to understand their opinions, basically. Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the Court’s most conservative members, and vocal opponent of cameras in the courtroom, explained the rationale in 2012:
If I really thought it would educate the American people I’d be all for it. If the American people sat down and watched our proceedings gavel to gavel they would never again ask — as I’m sometimes asked, ‘Justice Scalia, why do you have to be a lawyer to be on the Supreme Court? The Constitution doesn’t say so’ — no the Constitution doesn’t say so, but if you know what our real business is, if you know that we’re not usually contemplating our navel ‘should there be a right to this or that, should there be a right to abortion, should there be a right to homos-...’ that’s not usually what we’re doing.
We’re usually dealing with dulls stuff that only a lawyer could understand, and perhaps get interested in. If the American people saw all of that, they would be educated.
Um, sure Justice Scalia.
The ironic thing? Scalia seems to be arguing that if you take video clips of Court proceedings out of context it can represent a distorted view of what’s being said. But you’ll notice that I did my best to transcribe his words and because he cut off his own use of a word that starts with homo, it appears like he’s asking “should there be a right to homos?”
Now, given Scalia’s record on human rights, I can’t say for sure that he wasn’t literally asking that question. But you actually get a better feel for the context of his quote by watching the video.
Make no mistake that televised proceedings from the Supreme Court seem inevitable. Another hidden camera made its way inside the Supreme Court just last year. As cameras keep getting smaller and more stealth it’s only a matter of time. And when they’re finally allowed openly in the courtroom, let Walbert Castillo’s “accident” be remembered as one of the first shots across the bow.
Photo of the Supreme Court via AP