Public access to court proceedings is a constitutional dictate and yet, since Sept. 11, 2001, the executive branch has pushed for secrecy to shroud the courtroom in the name of national security. Too often, courts have acquiesced despite the fact that access plays a crucial role in checking inter-branch conflicts, providing the electorate the information it needs to function and guaranteeing a fair trial and policing executive abuses.
Matthew L. Schafer attempts to reset the discussion on the right of access by taking an interest-based approach informed by the role that access plays throughout the Constitution. He proposes that access is not simply meant to ensure that all parties act properly or that all witnesses tell the truth. Rather, access is meant to ensure that our constitutional system works as intended by advancing the interests the Founders thought important.
- Adjunct Professor, Media Law, Fordham University School of Law.