April 4, 2013

I admire few journalists more than Walter Pincus, b ut his March 29 Fine Print column, urging that cameras be kept out of the Supreme Court , was misguided and surprising — given that his career has been devoted to shining light on the hidden corners of our government.

The Supreme Court is in every way the people’s court, yet the only way the people can see it in action is to come to Washington and wait in line — which, for the same-sex marriage cases, often meant paying line-sitters hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Mr. Pincus was fortunate to get in and witness the memorable moments he wrote about in his column. But why shouldn’t other Americans be able to see what he saw, namely the chief justice of the United States criticizing the president of the United States? Why shouldn’t the public see when, to put it kindly, wakefulness escapes one or more justices?

Wistfully lamenting how cameras have changed Congress and how they might change the Supreme Court is beside the point. Government institutions should not be able to keep out the public just because they liked the good old days, when they could conduct business less visibly. The court’s resistance to camera access disserves the public and the court itself.

Tony Mauro, Alexandria

The writer reports on the Supreme Court for the National Law Journal and is chairman of the executive committee of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.