The U.S. Supreme Court, unlike the congress, does not permit televised broadcasts of its proceedings. It looks like that will not change in the near future, as a majority of the current justices are opposed to it. According to C-SPAN, Justice Antonin Scalia, who has served on the Supreme Court since 1986, explained in 2006 why he does not support televising Supreme Court proceedings. This is one of a number of times that Scalia has come out against permitting TV cameras in the Supreme Court.
“If I thought that cameras in the Supreme Court would really educate the people, I would be all for it. But I think it would miseducate and misinform. Most of the time the court is dealing with bankruptcy code, the internal revenue code, [the labor law] ERISA — stuff only a lawyer would love. Nobody’s going to be watching that gavel-to-gavel except a few C-SPAN junkies. For every one of them, there will be 100,000 people who will see maybe 15 second take-out on the network news, which I guarantee you will be uncharacteristic of what the Supreme Court does.”
John Oliver, on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, came up with a novel idea to get people interested in watching Supreme Court proceedings: replace the humans involved with animals. Oliver offered a video, which has since gone viral, where the nine Supreme Court justices are replaced with dogs. The voices on the video belong to the actual justices, but the seats are occupied by canines. A chicken is the stenographer, and a duck serves as a legal assistant.
Oliver is convinced that this is a way to get Americans to pay attention to the Supreme Court, and it’s hard to argue with him. Think of the last time you were channel surfing, looking for something to watch. If you ran across a news story about the Supreme Court, chances are you just kept on clicking the remote. But, if you happened upon a show featuring dogs doing tricks, you probably lingered for at least a few minutes.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Oliver liked the “Supreme Court Justices as dogs” idea so much that he didn’t stop at showing the video on his HBO program. Last Week Tonightuploaded footage of the dogs to YouTube, and encouraged the news media to make use of it. The footage runs about ten and a half minutes, without sound, and features shots of each of the Supreme Court justices, so that all one has to do is edit the video and add audio from the appropriate justice.
Apparently, the mainstream media is quite satisfied with their Supreme Court coverage as it is, but at least one enterprising individual has taken up Oliver’s offer. As reported in The Inquisitr, the Supreme Court last spring ruled on the Hobby Lobby case. YouTube user “ibmeruu” has created a video of the oral arguments in that case, using Last Week Tonight’s footage. CNN and Fox News, take note!
[Screen capture via Last Week Tonight with John Oliver]