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Previously: Why Isn’t The Prop 8 Trial Televised (At Least Not Today)?

Elsewhere: High court: No cameras at Prop 8 trial AP via ABC7, Supreme Court: No Cameras At SF Gay Marriage Trial CBS5, High court bans TV, YouTube for same-sex trial Chron, Supreme Court: No Cameras In Prop 8 Trial KCBS



The U.S. Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote today blocked a proposed limited broadcast of a federal trial in San Francisco on the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The court majority said the local court failed to follow proper procedures for public comment before allowing what would have been the first broadcast of a federal trial in the West.

The court issued a stay that will be in effect until a full appeal is filed and considered by the court concerning a Jan. 7 order in which U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker had authorized the broadcast. Such an appeal would not be completed until long after the trial.

The stay continues a temporary stay issued by the high court one hour before the trial began before Walker on Monday.

The plan blocked by the court was a proposal to allow a live broadcast of the two-week trial to five other federal courthouses in California and three other states.

A related plan by Walker to allow a delayed Internet broadcast on YouTube was not before the high court because the Internet broadcast had not yet been approved by a federal appeals court judge.

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  • bloomsm

    This decision is actually really interesting, in that the court signaled that it is not dead set against television in the federal courts. The concern, first expressed in 1996 by the federal Judicial Conference, is one of witness intimidation (federal judges also conduct criminal trials). In addition, there is a secondary concern that cameras in courts tend to create a lynch mob mentality. In this week’s decision, the court noted that camers “could compromise the orderly, decorous, rational traditions that courts rely upno to ensure the integrity of their own judgments.” I.e., don’t play to the cameras (Judge Ito, where are you?).

    It is also significant that the SF district court moved heaven and earth to change its own court rules for the Prop 8 trial. The justices concluded that a hasty rules change deprived interested parties of a meaningful chance to comment and consider the proposed rule changes. That’s the bitch of justice: sometimes it does what you want, sometimes it doesn’t.