Policy Letter

Super Committee Must Post Recommendations 72 Hours Before Voting

Chief Justice John G. Roberts

Supreme Court of the United States

One First Street, N.E.

Washington, D.C. 20543

Dear Chief Justice Roberts:

As organizations and individuals dedicated to transparency in government, we write to urge you to allow televising of oral arguments in the three cases before the Court addressing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Nat’l Fed’n of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius, No. 11-393, Florida v. U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Serv., No. 11, 400, and U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Serv. v. Florida, No. 11-398. These cases present some of the most significant issues to come before this Court in modern times, and the Court’s resolution of these matters will have an enormous impact on our entire country.

The importance of these cases to the American public cannot be denied. Indeed, the Court at least implicitly recognized their gravity by scheduling five and one-half hours for oral argument. The issue of access to affordable health care strikes at the core of our relationship with our government, especially in this time of great economic turmoil. Further, the cases involve weighty questions regarding the right of the federal government to mandate both state and

individual action.

The public needs and deserves to watch how the Court deals with these issues. As former Judge Kenneth W. Starr wrote recently in advocating for opening up the Supreme Court to cameras, “[d]emocracy’s first principles strongly support the people’s right to know how their government works.” Kenneth W. Starr, Open Up High Court to Cameras, New York Times, Oct. 3, 2011. That right extends to the business of the Supreme Court, a court that “issues decisions

that profoundly affect the nation.” Id.

Quite simply, the entire nation shares an interest in how the Court will resolve the thorny, yet fundamental issues raised by the Affordable Care Act. Thousands of Americans, if not more, would have a great interest in watching this momentous argument, yet the Court has seating for only approximately 250 visitors. In a matter of this magnitude, citizens should have the opportunity to assess the arguments themselves and in real time, rather than being forced to rely upon later news reports. Please let the nation share a front-row seat by opening up the hearing to cameras.

Very truly yours,

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

American Society of News Editors

Arizona Newspapers Association, Inc.

Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors

Association of Research Libraries

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

CREDO action

Defending Dissent Foundation

Ellen Smith, Legal Publication Services

Erwin Chemerinsky

Feminists for Free Expression

Government Accountability Project

Health Care for America NOW


Liberty Coalition

National Freedom of Information Coalition

OMB Watch


Project on Government Oversight

Society of Professional Journalists

Suffolk Media Law

The Woodbury Fund

Washington Coalition for Open Government

William A Wise Law Library,

University of Colorado School of Law