January 13, 2010
SCOTUS nixes video of Prop 8 trial, citing potential witness harassment
The Blog of the Legal Times reports:
By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court has just stayed or halted plans to transmit the video and audio of a high-profile federal trial in California to other courthouses around the country. In an unsigned opinion, the Court said the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California had not followed proper procedures when it changed its local rules to allow the broadcast of the trial on the Proposition 8 ban in California on same-sex marriage.
The decision does not speak broadly about the issue of camera access to federal trials, but does state that "irreparable harm" would result from wide broadcast of the trial, because of possible witness harassment and intimidation. Proponents of Proposition 8, who opposed the telecast, warned of the harms, though the advocates of same-sex marriage, who favored broadcast access, said the claims were without foundation.
Justice Stephen Breyer dissented, joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor. "The public interest weighs in favor of providing access to the courts," wrote Breyer.
The witnesses set to testify in defense of Proposition 8 have asked the Court to keep the media out. They claim they will be “endangered” if their identities are known. Really? These people base their defense of Proposition 8 on their assertion that tradition and morality and public opinion are on their side. If that is so, why not speak out publicly? Why not bask in the approval of the public? The only possible answer is: the public’s opinion has changed.
January 13, 2010 | Permalink
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