In a wide-ranging interview with NBC's Brian Williams that will appear this evening on "Nightly News," Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer discussed the controversial Bush v. Gore decision, as well as whether there should be TV cameras inside the court.
On Bush v. Gore:
Williams: Do you think Bush v. Gore hurt the credibility of the modern court?
Williams: For how long?
Breyer: I don't know. That's up to historians. I thought that the-- the decision, I was in dissent. I-- I obviously thought the majority was wrong. But I've heard Harry Reid, who is the-- he's the chief of the Democratic forces, the Democrats in the Congress-- he-- he said-- I heard him say this, and I agree with it completely. He said, "The most remarkable thing about that case, Bush vs. Gore, is something hardly anyone remarks." And that remarkable thing, is even though more than half the public strongly disagreed with it, thought it was really wrong it, they followed it.
On whether TV cameras should be in the U.S. Supreme Court:
Williams: In this, the era of transparency, would it be a little better for our understanding of the court if we could see more of your work?
Breyer: In other words, should we have television in the courtroom? This is a very good question. And-- the answer to me is not obvious. We haven't voted on it. I haven't had to take a position. The reasons for doing it are obvious. I mean, television is part of the press. And I think wouldn't it have been a wonderful thing if television could've been in the courtroom and seen the oral argument, for example, in the case of term limits, and many of these cases. You would've seen nine people struggling towards an answer in a very, very difficult kind of question.
But the end-- the arguments the other way are less obvious, but they're no less valid. If we brought Con-- television in, you think we'd be in every courtroom in the country, including criminal cases. If we brought-- you know, people see their neighbors, or they're worried about being seen by their neighbors, where the witnesses suddenly realize the whole community's watching them testify, I-- I don't know. Problem.