The ornate marble chamber in which the Supreme Court hears cases accommodates about 400 spectators. Among these are reporters, guests of the justices and lawyers who retain privileges at the court. Once all those take their seats, sometimes fewer than 100 spaces remain. The result: long lines for members of the public.

The court tried to make things a little fairer last week, informing lawyers that they would have to line up personally to get into their special section, instead of hiring line-standers to wait for them.

But the odds will still be stacked against the public. Ordinary people should have a front-row seat to the workings of one of the country’s most powerful public institutions – even a virtual one. It’s time for the court to end its ban on cameras in the courtroom.

Transcripts of oral arguments often post hours after they occur. Audio usually isn’t available until the end of the week. Those who don’t get in must rely on snippets from Twitter and other second-hand accounts for information on court arguments or decisions.

The court is financed by the public and works on its behalf. Unless there is some major national interest in keeping proceedings cloaked, the default position should be public access.