C-SPAN seeks to air Supreme Court healthcare arguments

The C-SPAN network, which has tried without success for more than 20 years to bring the Supreme Court into the TV era, is trying again.

A day after the high court announced it would hear more than five hours of oral arguments in March to decide the constitutionality of President Obama’s healthcare law, C-SPAN asked permission to televise the proceeding.

“We believe the public interest is best served by live television coverage of this particular oral argument,” Brian P. Lamb, C-SPAN’s chief executive, said in a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. “It is a case which will affect every American’s life, our economy and will certainly be an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign.”


The public affairs network has broadcast proceedings of the House and Senate since the 1980s. The Supreme Court, however, has refused all requests for live TV or radio broadcasts of its public sessions.

On occasion, however, the justices have allowed a same-day release of an audio recording of an argument in a major case. And since last year, the court has posted on its website on Fridays the audio recording of cases that were heard earlier in the week.