SCOTUSblog files credentialing appeal to Senate

lyle-denniston

Lyle Denniston

Over at SCOTUSblog a letter has been filed with Laura Lytle of the Senate Press Gallery in connection with the Blog’s appeal of the Standing Committee’s decision not to renew Lyle Denniston’s press credential. In early April, the Senate Press Gallery denied SCOTUSblog’s application for a press pass, and advised that it would refuse to renew the credential it had previously granted Mr. Denniston when it expires this month. The Supreme Court’s longstanding policy is to look to credentials issued by the Senate in connection with its own credentialing.

SCOTUSblog pursued a Senate credential for several years, modifying its blog policies to address the concerns expressed by the Gallery. Last year, SCOTUSblog succeeded – the Senate Press Gallery credentialed Mr. Denniston as a reporter for SCOTUSblog. That credential was then presented to the Supreme Court. The Court, however, declined to recognize the credential, explaining that it would instead review its credentialing policy.  The Court has yet to indicate when that review will conclude.

Before the Senate issued a credential to Mr. Denniston, the Court recognized him based on his work for WBUR radio in Boston. That remains unchanged. Additionally, as an interim measure during the review of its policies, SCOTUSblog requested public seats for the cases that Amy Howe (SCOTUSblog’s editor) was covering. The Court has granted those requests.

According to Tom Goldstein (the publisher of SCOTUSblog), “the Senate Press Gallery’s decision to deny us a credential is important to us.  We wanted the credential in substantial part because we cover Supreme Court-related matters in the Senate.  Most significantly, we do gavel-to-gavel, liveblog coverage of Supreme Court nominations. We also expect to cover hearings related to the Court’s budget.  So those efforts are now more difficult.”

Among other things, the May 14th letter to the Senate states:

As a result of [its] extensive coverage, the blog has built a substantial readership: On the days when the Court is issuing decisions during the middle of the Term (i.e., before periods of the public’s peak interest), it averages nearly sixty thousand unique visits per day, and it has roughly 160,000 Twitter followers. In addition, the blog has over ten thousand subscribers to its RSS feed, along with over five thousand subscribers for its email updates. 

A number of issues are addressed in the letter along with the nature of the Blog’s financial and editorial operations.

(NB: I serve as the Blog’s book editor and contribute to it. I have not, however, been involved in any credentialing matters for the Blog and have likewise not discussed the matter with its publisher, editor, or staff.)

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2 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    This denial is ridiculous.

  2. Mike Stern says:

    An observation. The Scotusblog letter does not seem to cite or refer to any pertinent rule governing admission to the Daily Press Gallery. It refers to concerns that it has heard the Standing Committee has with its application, but does not relate those concerns to the governing standard. I am not sure why this is, but I suspect that it is not accidental. Any insight?