Lights, Camera, Action

Buster Keaton and a friend in The Cameraman.

Dear Chief Justice Roberts:

The Supreme Court has had a tough few years. It used to be a quiet and dignified place, but it’s been a beehive of controversy since Justice Scalia’s death. You have no control over Mitch McConnell, but he stole a seat for the Republican party. Merrick Garland should be on the court, not Attorney General.

The Trump nominees were all accompanied by a whiff of scandal. There are rumors that Justice Kennedy was forced off the bench to make way for Justice Bro DBA Brett Kavanaugh. That nomination was a cluster complete with tears in Kavanaugh’s beer. Does he still like beer?

I suspect that Sam the Sham Alito is a handful. People who think they’ve never made a mistake are an enormous pain in the ass. His habit of whining to the media is new for SCOTUS. I feel for you every time he cries foul in such a foul manner. It’s, well, foul.

Then there’s the most senior Justice, Clarence Thomas. His time on the bench was steeped in controversy from the beginning but his habit of accepting lavish gifts from rich acquaintances is a bad look for your court, Chief. I can call you Chief, can’t I?

I’m sorry that your dream job has turned into a nightmare, but criticism comes with the territory. I must admit to being one of your critics, but I’m writing to suggest something that will bring praise and acclaim upon your beleaguered institution. The federal Trump trials should be televised.

Some of your colleagues are fuddy-duddies who clutch at their pearls every time the subject of cameras in the courtroom arises. But you allowed audio at SCOTUS during the global pandemic, Chief. These cases are among the most important in American history. Our Republic was seriously wounded by the Trump coup plot and cameras in the court could help us heal.

I realize that televising the purloined papers case could be dicey because it involves classified material, but the coup plot case does not. Televise it, Chief.

I’m not the only one beating this drum. One of our nation’s finest appellate advocates, Neal Katyal is on Team Televise It. If you haven’t already, make sure to read his WaPo op-ed on the subject. Consider it an informal brief arguing the case that the public has a right to see the Trump trials for themselves. Televise it, Chief.

I know that you’d prefer to stay out of politics, Chief, but you’re an intelligent man. Surely, you’ve noticed that Defendant Trump is a habitual liar. If cameras are not allowed in the courtroom, he and his followers will lie about the proceedings. You can stop that. Televise it, Chief.

Did you see the coverage of the RICO indictment in Atlanta? We got to see the clerk of court deliver the indictment to the judge for his approval. It was transparent and refreshing to see our judicial system in action. It makes the feds look stodgy and stuck in the 19th Century. You have the power to bring the federal courts into the 21st Century. Televise it, Chief.

You don’t have to allow cameras in all federal courtrooms. All that is required is a waiver in the Trump cases from the Judicial Counsel on which you sit. The American people have a right to know if Defendant TrumpĀ  is a crook before the next election. Televise it, Chief.

You’re probably wondering about the featured image on this open letter. That’s Buster Keaton in the 1928 silent comedy, The Cameraman. Cameras used to be noisy and bulky, that’s no longer the case. You don’t have to allow a monkey to accompany the cameraman or woman. They’re not all as cute and well-behaved as Josephine the movie monkey. Hell, she’s better behaved than the defendant whose trial I’m urging you to televise. Don’t let Team Trump make a monkey out of you: Televise it, Chief.

Thanks for listening, Chief. Allowing the Trump trials to be televised would be good for the court and country alike. You have the power to make it so.

While you’re at it, how about a new ethics code for you and your colleagues?



The open letter is closed, but we still need a last word. It goes to Talking Heads:



2 thoughts on “Lights, Camera, Action

  1. If only the “Chief” would listen to your well-reasoned advice. Speaking of Chief, the use of that moniker had me re-reading the post in the voice of Maxwell Smart. Thanks for that; it was very enjoyable.

  2. “Lights, Camera, Action” — The title reminded me of Trump’s “Person, Woman, Man, Camera, TV” boast about his triumph over his cognitive test. Televising his brain farts ought to be interesting.

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