“What you’re about to see has never been seen before. This is video from inside the chamber of the US Supreme Court. Under their arcane rules, no one is allowed to record the proceedings, not even C-SPAN–in the year 2014.”
Here’s a first. Thanks to YouTube and someone’s shifty device-hiding skills, we now have the first ever video recorded and publicly published from inside the Supreme Court of the United States.
The first part of the video shows a very brief clip from last year’s oral arguments in the McCutcheon v. FEC case, which campaign finance reform activists call “Citizens United Part Two.” You can’t really make out much of what the justices are saying, but it’s still pretty fascinating to get a glimpse into the notoriously secretive arm of our government.
The second part of the two-minute video shows a protestor, referred to as Kai in the clip, who disrupts the Court’s proceedings to protest Citizens United.
“I rise on behalf of the vast majority of the American people who believe that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and our democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder. Overturn Citizens United. Keep the cap in McCutcheon. The people demand democracy.”
After that, Kai is taken down by guards. That’s where our short glimpse into the chambers ends.
The Wall Street Journal identifies the protester as 33-year-old Kai Newkirk. He’s already pleaded not guilty to a handful of misdemeanors–including one that makes “a harangue or orations” in the US Supreme Court building illegal. He was released on the condition that he’d stay away from the SCOTUS.
Not only is this video super rare (one of a kind, really), but even photos from inside the Supreme Court Chambers are pretty rare. As Americans, we’re used to getting our glimpses of the highest court in the land from sketches and audio clips.
Although many Americans would argue that it’s not only silly and pointless, but downright undemocratic to ban video recording equipment from one branch of the federal government, the Justices themselves have stuck by the rule. Though Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan both suggested that they would be support cameras in the courtroom during their confirmation hearings, both have since backtracked.
Image via YouTube