On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a vote of 13 to 6, approved a measure that would televise Supreme Court proceedings and permit cameras in lower federal courts at a judge's discretion. But whether the Senate can force the federal courts to televise their proceedings is unclear. The Supreme Court has its own rules on televising their proceedings. The Supreme Court currently does not allow cameras. However, they do release audio recordings of certain proceedings. The Judicial Conference, the governing body for the lower courts, does not allow cameras in federal courtrooms. However, the Judicial Conference does allow each appellate circuit to make its own coverage policy. Only 2 circuits, New York's 2nd and San Francisco's 9th, currently permit cameras. In addition, some other courts allow for the release of audio recordings of proceedings. On Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee approved three bills. The first would permit the use of cameras in the Supreme Court unless a majority of justices, in a particular case, decided that cameras would violate a party's rights. The second bill would give district and appellate judges the decision on whether to allow cameras. And the final bill, which is really not a binding piece of legislation, would merely state that it is the "sense of the Senate" that the Supreme Court should allow cameras.
It is unclear if any of these measures will ever make it to the full Senate for a vote.
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