Senate Look at Supreme Court Transparency Should Follow the Paper Trail


Tomorrow, a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee will hold a hearing  on televising Supreme Court proceedings. This is an important issue, but I  believe it is at least as important that the Court make publicly available its official documents: its opinions, merits briefs, amici briefs, and the like. Unfortunately, they generally do not do so. Opinions are available only from the 2006-07 Term format; merits and amici briefs are generally available from the ABA’s website — not the Court — and only sporadically for the last few years. Millions of Americans look to the Court for information about what it is doing, and that information is lacking.

Here is a mock-up of what we at the Sunlight Foundation think a much improved Supreme Court website could look like, and an interview I had with SCOTUSblog on the proposed redesign. While the Court has made some minor strides since our redesign, the website still does not accomplish its basic purpose of informing the public. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s “Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts” hearing, which will feature, among others, former Senator Arlen Specter and SCOTUSBlog founder Thomas Goldstein.