Last week I interviewed Mark Farkas, the executive editor of the new C-SPAN book The Supreme Court, which features transcripts of interviews with all nine of the sitting Justices, retired Justices Souter and O’Connor, and journalists and practitioners who cover the Court.  The interviews first appeared in a video documentary filmed by C-SPAN last year, which Mark helped produce (see it online, in segments, here).  It was the first media project in which all nine sitting Justices participated, as well as the first time that Justice Souter ever granted a public interview.

My interview with Mark is recorded in this seventeen-minute podcast:


At the fifteen-minute marker, Mark discusses C-SPAN’s requests for the Court to release audio recordings of oral arguments the same day as the arguments.   The first request granted was in Bush v. Gore.  C-SPAN has kindly provided us with a list of all of the requests it has made since then (twenty-one have been granted, with twenty-five denied).

Below the jump is a road map of highlights, with links to the parts of the video documentary we were discussing.

  • 1:58–C-SPAN gets permission to interview all of the Justices
  • 3:25–The story behind retired Justice Souter’s first-ever interview
  • 5:33–Why Justice Souter didn’t want the interview to appear in the book: it wasn’t fair to other journalists whose requests he had denied during his whole career
  • 6:10–Rare video footage of the chambers of Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, and Stevens
  • 7:31–Off-limits places to the public: robing room, Justices’ dining room, lawyers’ lounge, conference rooms
  • 8:42–Off-limits topics in the Justices’ interviews: all specific cases, and cameras in the Court
  • 9:47–Justice Sotomayor’s call from President Obama (see it here)
  • 11:11–Why Justice Scalia’s interview is two minutes long and the Chief Justice’s is thirty minutes
  • 12:22–Interviews with Supreme Court journalists and practitioners: “They aren’t afraid to talk about the cases, and be more blunt about some of the personalities over there”
  • 13:53–Interview with Lyle Denniston
  • 14:39–C-SPAN’s unsuccessful requests for same-day audio releases from oral argument (again, here)
  • 15:39–Cameras in the Courtroom: when, if ever, do you see it happening? (“the $64,000-question”)

Posted in Book Reviews, Uncategorized