The United States Congress is trying to force The Supreme Court to broadcast oral arguments on television. The Cameras in the Courtroom Act of 2011, introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, seeks to make the court more "accountable to the public" by turning the Supreme Court into the same media circus that has so well served the other two branches of government. But why stop at cameras in the courtroom? Here are some other ideas to spruce up Supreme Court arguments:
Instead of starting the proceedings with the boring tradition of "All rise for the honorable..." how about a red carpet pre-show spectacular? If those black robes made it into People magazine, the Justices would all end up on the worst dressed list (although Ginsburg would top Scalia in "Who Wore it Better"). Justices can have their Robes designed by preeminent designers. Roberts would look even more dashing in a Tom Ford, while Sotomayor could explore her wild side with a Björk-like Swan robe. Elena "Lady Ka Ga" Kagan would surely wow the crowd when her team of burly clerks carries her to court in a translucent egg. Even Clarence Thomas can get in on the fun, sporting a traditional burlap piece made with only Colonial-era tailoring techniques.
Once the justices pass the paparazzi and take their seats at the bench (which has been replaced with giant rooftop hot tub) boxing announcer Michael Buffer will announce "Let's get ready to arguuuuue!" The lights in the courtroom dim as the lawyers prepare to enter the arena of battle. An unseen announcer proclaims: "Representing the Petitioner -- at five feet six inches, three hundred thirty five pounds, Maaarrty Goooldbluuum!" Through a blast of purple smoke, Goldblum struts to the podium as ACDC's "Highway to Hell" blasts from the speakers.
Americans find it hard to connect to oral arguments. Because they are boring. They would be far less boring if they were replaced with freestyle rap battles: "Insurance mandates infringe my liberty/ make me feel more gross than when your mom kisses me." Oh snap!
Anthony Kennedy expressed a major concern of the Justices, that "If you introduce cameras, it is human nature for me to suspect from time to time that one of my colleagues is saying something for a sound bite." That fear could easily be allayed with a radio DJ who could play embarrassing sound effects when Justices play to the cameras. A question like, "Am I the only one here who cares about the Constitution?" loses its punch when followed by a fart noise. And when a lawyer mischaracterizes a precedent, the DJ could sound a siren -- preferably the one from reggaeton songs.
Every argument would feature one celebrity guest judge. I would tune in just to hear Simon Cowell tell the Solicitor General, "That was the most pathetic argument I've ever heard. My niece is in kindergarten and even she wouldn't infer congressional intent from one subcommittee report."
I know what you're thinking -- with strained federal budgets, how would we pay for all this? But that's easy: corporate sponsorships. Pharmaceutical companies would pay top dollar to sponsor the oral argument on Obama's healthcare legislation. When the Supreme Court turns into a cable news screamfest like the U.S. Congress, we will all benefit from more of their antidepressants. Between each side's case, a short commercial could play on the Court's new Jumbotron: "Today's proceedings are brought to you by Trojan condoms -- 'cause after Citizens United, we're all getting screwed!"
There are limitless possibilities for making the Supreme Court more appealing to the American Public: The losing advocate must eat a tarantula; the clerks dance battle before each argument; idiots submit questions for the advocate via twitter: @Carter Phillips "Do u just say whatevz 4 any1 who payz u?"; a halftime contest gavel-toss--if the contestant beans the court reporter from 50 yards, she wins a preliminary injunction on the topic of her choosing. Write your own ridiculous ideas in the comments section of this post; Congress is open to your suggestions.
We might not like everything the Supreme Court does, but the system works pretty well the way it is. If you want to know what was said, you can easily get a transcript and recording of the argument online, then make your very own Al Gore-like PowerPoint to bore your friends.
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