When Justice Stephen Breyer steps on to the stage December 9 as part of a Magna Carta symposium called “Conversations on the Enduring Legacy of the Great Charter,” he’ll have a C-SPAN camera pointed straight at him, and he will relish his time in front of it.
Breyer has generally been open to televising his public appearances, even as he views putting cameras in the court with reluctance.
Yet one private appearance made his annual financial disclosure report last year: Breyer snagged a seat on David Rubenstein’s private plane for an Aug. 2013 wedding in Nantucket – the same David Rubenstein who runs one of the world’s largest hedge funds. Rubenstein and Breyer are friends from when they worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee together in the 1970s, and we applaud Breyer for being forthcoming about the jet.
While the White House and many congressional offices each day release the public schedules of the President and members of Congress, respectively, the Supreme Court refrains from giving advanced notice of when a justice is appearing in public for a lecture, seminar or other event. And sometimes, when a justice appears in public, he or she goes to great lengths to ensure a speech or panel discussion is not recorded or broadcast. Further, it’s not always clear from a justice’s annual financial disclosure report who paid for their travel to and lodging for said event.
Fix the Court is calling on the court to advise the press of the justices’ public appearances (i.e., not vacation or other personal dealings) outside of the court, allow media coverage of most of those appearances like other top government officials and be more forthcoming about their travel benefactors in their disclosure reports.