The New York Times published an editorial today in support of a proposal last week from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The proposal advocates–and the editorial endorses–a presumption for openness regarding the Court’s records. Beyond its paper records, the Court continues to shield itself from public access, restricting its public sessions to those lucky enough to have a seat in the courtroom. The rest of us must wait days if not months to hear what has transpired there.
The editorial ends with a compelling quote by Judge Frank Easterbrook of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit: “The political branches of government claim legitimacy by election, judges by reason. Any step that withdraws an element of the judicial process from public view makes the ensuing decision look more like fiat.” So it could be said for delaying or complicating the public’s access to its highest court.