Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

US Supreme Court blocks videos from Prop 8 trial

The Supreme Court has blocked televising the federal Prop 8 trial in San Francisco, ruling 5-4 late Wednesday, January 13 not to allow video from each day’s proceedings to be uploaded online.

The justices split along party lines, with the court’s Republican-appointed majority siding with claims by Prop 8’s backers that releasing the footage from the trial would have resulted in harassment of their clients and witnesses.

The lawyers for the plaintiff couples and LGBT leaders have pressed for the trial to be televised, arguing it would help to educate Americans about the discrimination gays and lesbians face in America.

“It is very troubling that the Supreme Court has decided to prohibit, even on a delayed basis, any video transmission of the proceedings in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. In doing so, the Court has failed to recognize that where matters so basic to the dignity and equality of millions of Americans are at issue, it is even more imperative than usual that all of the constitutional arguments, pro and con, be exposed to the greatest possible public scrutiny,” stated L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean.

Jean called Prop 8 backers’ move to stop the broadcasts of the trial “a new height in gall, but also extraordinarily telling,” since only months ago they “were spending millions of dollars to broadcast their lies and distortions about marriage equality up and down the state of California” but now want “the courts to shield their anti-gay arguments from public view.”

Jean argued that Prop 8’s proponents “know full well that without the appeals to fear and prejudice, which have become their stock-in-trade, they have no case to make against fairness and equal treatment for all Americans.”

U.S. Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker had decided to release the videos and his ruling was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The appelate court recently decided to allow judges to have discretion over whether or not to televise proceedings before them.

But the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of the decision prior to the start of the Prop 8 trial Monday, January 11. Cameras had been recording the first two days of testimony in case the court lifted its ban.

Walker had said Tuesday that he had received hundreds of thousands of comments about the issue, with the overwhelming majority of people in favor of having the same-sex marriage trial televised.

— Matthew S. Bajko, January 13, 2010 @ 3:05 pm PST
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