Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has served in Congress since 1975 and today he’s doing something he’s only done once before — he’s at the U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments about the federal health care law. Living much of the year in Washington D.C., Grassley says he’s taking advantage of this rare opportunity, but wishes it was something all of us could do.
Grassley says, “The impact of the case being heard this week, with every citizen’s life touched by the law requiring everybody to have health insurance, and it’s one-sixth of the American economy effected, emphasizes the importance of public access to proceedings in the nation’s courts, including the Supreme Court.”
Grassley says he’s worked for more than a decade to grant federal judges the power to allow cameras in their courtrooms. He’s also introduced legislation to broadcast coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court. “The (Senate) Judiciary Committee has voted to pass both measures out of committee,” Grassley says.
“Until legislation can be passed, I’ve also made appeals directly to the Supreme Court to release recordings of the arguments.” At his request, the nation’s high court released audio recordings of proceedings in 2000 during hearings over the contested presidential race between Al Gore and George W. Bush.
Since then, the court has periodically released recordings and this week, it’s making audio available during each of the three days of oral arguments. “Public access to the proceedings of the courts reflect the democratic values of government transparency of due process, of integrity in court proceedings and even affecting civic education,” Grassley says.
“The best way to make sure government is accountable is for the people to establish transparency.” Iowa is among 26 states that are suing the federal government over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which critics call Obamacare.