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Supreme Court Splits 5-4 In Banning Televising Of Same-Sex Marriage Trial

After an initial ban of two days (vote = 8-1 [J. Breyer, dissenting], the U.S. Supreme Court voted Wednesday to permanently ban any public broadcast of the Prop. 8, same-sex marriage trial.  In an unsigned, 17-page ruling – in which the Court spends considerable time chiding both District Court Judge Vaughn Walker and the 9th Circuit for issuing their orders to televise the Prop. 8 trial – the Supreme Court banned any televised broadcast of the trial “around the country.”

The vote was 5-4 along ideological lines, as follows:

Majority:  Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas

Dissent:  Breyer, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Stevens

The order televising the Prop. 8 trial was to be part of a pilot program instituted by the 9th Circuit.  The goal of this program is, or perhaps was, to increase public awareness of the federal court system and federal proceedings by bringing video cameras into the courtroom.

As I questioned in my last blog post on this subject, it now appears likely that the Supreme Court’s ban will have even more far-reaching and negative effects on pilot programs such as the 9th Circuit’s.  Casting a negative spin on the broadcasting of “high-profile, divisive cases,” the Court majority wrote: “Even the studies that have been conducted thus far have not analyzed the effect of broadcasting in high-profile, divisive cases.”

So, I reiterate a question from my previous post:  What sort of cases are fit to broadcast, if not the high-profile ones of public concern – i.e., the only ones that television is likely to be interested in to begin with?  Another even more important question – Is this decision a prequel to a decision down the road on the merits of same-sex marriage?

You can link to further commentary posing similar concerns at The SCOTUS Blog, here.  I have also placed a copy of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Box, entitled Prop8Decision.

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