Media Request for Live Video/Audio of Hand-Down Days

Some media organizations have petitioned the Supreme Court asking the Justices to permit live coverage of the hand-down of the opinions on the Affordable Care Act.  There is no good reason for the Court to deny this request.

With respect to oral arguments, there are valid arguments against live coverage. It might cause lawyers or Justices to behave differently and hurt the deliberative process.  (I don’t believe this, but a reasonable person could.)  The same is not true for the comments from the bench when an opinion is issued.  The case is (by definition) decided–the outcome cannot be affected. At that stage, the Justices are informing the public of their decision and reasons.  Why should that be restricted to a few hundred people who get seats in the courtroom?

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6 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    There is even less reason not to release it live on tape, which is their back-up request. has many such opinion announcements, including in some key cases like McDonald, Lawrence and Casey. They are often quite informative and at times (especially dissents) dramatic.

    The USSC should put them on their website at the end of the week just as they do for oral argument audio, providing a written transcript same day.

  2. Brett Bellmore says:

    I suppose the main reason they don’t want to do it, is the essential certainty that the media would leave 99% of what got said on the cutting room floor, and run with a few words taken out of context. But posting it to their own website after it’s ceased to be live news would probably be a way around this.

  3. Shag from Brookline says:

    Brett seems to fear the inverse of OWS’s 99% movement when it comes to SCOTUS, perhaps because of the possible impact on Court approval polling. Brett’s fear of what the media may do seems to be based upon Fox News. Query: Should unelected officials be entitled to more protection from the media than elected officials under the First Amendment?

    As to the Court’s own website, might there be a tad of editing as there is with the Congressional Record to avoid emarrassment? Surely the Justices are sensitive to recent polling.

  4. Shag from Brookline says:

    “emarrassment” is embarrassing.

  5. Joe says:

    The “essential certainty” of leaving out 99% would amount to them playing under one minute clips, which isn’t actually what often happens on various media for much less important things. The media also did not do this for confirmation hearings. They actually played hours of testimony live.

    This would be at most about 1/2 hour mid-morning. CNN, MSNBC, FOX, et. al. would likely play it live in its entirety.

    Anyway, the print media will be there. They get to leave stuff out too and here there would be something on tape (if nowhere else, on C-SPAN) to refute them if they do.

  6. Ken Rhodes says:

    In re: Brett’s comment and the rejoinders–Brett didn’t say that’s right, he merely made an observation on what the justices might want or don’t want.

    And BTW, about “them” playing clips of less than a minute, that’s probably EXACTLY what most people would see. Who thinks most people would watch paint dry … oops, I mean would watch the various opinions being read in their entirety, in the middle of the day? My guess is that most people get their news in soundbites on the Six O’clock News.