Opening up the courts

On Thursday, thousands of Californians watched live coverage of the arguments about Prop 8 presented before the California Supreme Court. The hearings were surprisingly gripping despite being couched in legal terminology that was sometimes difficult for a layperson to understand. But most viewers, either on TV or the Internet, could get the gist of what the lawyers were presenting and the sense of the questions asked by the justices. The back-and-forth presentation helped everyone to understand the implications of what was being asked and what is involved in overturning a constitutional amendment passed by the majority of voters in the state. No matter what decision the Supreme Court hands down, citizens will be able to accept it more easily because they know that arguments were presented, taken seriously, and questioned before any decision was made. The issue of same-sex marriage will not die away, but at least this particular handling of a case has demonstrated that our justice system is still working thoughtfully to come to fair decisions. It would be good news for the country as a whole if the U.S.Supreme Court would adopt the position that video coverage of judicial proceedings help rather than hinder respect for the courts system in our country.

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