Supporters of California’s ban on same-sex marriage asked a federal appeals court in San Francisco this afternoon to block the broadcasting of next week’s trial on the measure.
Proponents of the ban, enacted by voters as Proposition 8, argued in an emergency petition to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the trial due to begin before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco Monday “has the potential to become a media circus.”
They claim that Walker’s plan to allow delayed video broadcast of the trial on YouTube would violate their right to a fair trial.
The petition contends the broadcast could result in “harassment of witnesses, threats to the safety and security of trial participants, unnecessary public exposure and ridicule of trial participants.”
It argues that the public wasn’t given adequate notice and opportunity to comment on a new rule allowing broadcast.
If not halted by the appeals court, the video coverage would be the first broadcast of a federal trial in western states.
The two-week trial, to be decided by Walker without a jury, will be on a lawsuit in which two same-sex couples claim Proposition 8 violates their federal constitutional rights.
Walker announced at a pretrial hearing on Wednesday that he would allow the broadcasting. Video recorded by court staff would be posted on San Bruno-based YouTube’s Web site after a delay of unknown length, possibly several hours, and would then be available to the public and for rebroadcasting on television.
The plan was made possible when the governing body of the 9th Circuit announced in December that it would allow a pilot program of broadcasting civil nonjury federal trials in nine western states.
Television cameras have previously been allowed in state courts and in some federal appeals court hearings, but not in federal trial courts nationwide except in a handful of cases.
The emergency petition claims that a local rule of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco allowing implementation of the pilot program wasn’t subjected to adequate public notice and opportunity to comment.
The trial will be the nation’s first on a federal constitutional challenge to restrictions on same-sex marriage.