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April 15, 2010


Bill Thompson

The televising of oral arguments should be based on a known benefit. An amorphous "this will increase the public's appreciation of the Court" is unconvincing. Has the public's appreciation of Congress increased since C-Span began? Moreover, oral argument is inherently misleading. Unlike Congressional debates, nothing said at oral argument explains how or why the Court will decide a case in a particular way. It is the opinion that is solely precedential. A questioner at oral argument may be acting soley as a Devil's advocate and not believe in the question. To televise oral argument is to inject misleading impressions and predictions as to how the Court will decide the case and set off complaints when the opinion deviates from the false expectations created.

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