The US Supreme Court has pulled the plug on broadcasting the historic Prop 8 federal trial, beginning today in San Francisco.
Last week, Judge Vaughn Walker made the decision to allow delayed televised coverage of the trial. Video coverage was to be available regularly on YouTube, though Walker was still considering actual live broadcasting. The Courage Campaign solicited more than 140,000 signatures of support for televising the trial.
Proponents of Prop 8 feared that their witnesses would be intimidated out of giving honest testimony. The decision not to televise the trial is treated with glee by Michelle Malkin, who, like Ed Meese, is unhappy that the trial is being held in San Francisco, a city that overwhelmingly voted against Prop 8. (The U.S. District Court of Northern California is located in San Francisco, the couples suing live in that district, and the City of San Francisco is itself a plaintiff in the lawsuit.)
According to the Times, the high court “will not allow video of the trial to be posted on YouTube.com, even with a delay, until the justices have more time to consider the issue,” noting that the order is in effect until at least Wednesday. Our partners at SF Weekly were pointing out before the decision that you could bypass waiting for YouTube and just follow the case live on Twitter.
No one thinks Chief Justice John Roberts, who is also the head of the Federal Judiciary, would want to do anything that aided opponents to Prop 8. But any desire he may have in wanting to bar cameras from this particular trial may go beyond the gay marriage issue itself. Roberts has indicated that he is not prone to allow cameras into the Supreme Court’s proceedings, period. Allowing them in lower federal courts might be interpreted as setting a dangerous precedent. (According to the Times, the newest Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, has indicated she is open to the idea of cameras in general, while Justice Stephen Breyer said he would have allowed the cameras to keep rolling until the Supremes makes up their minds in this case.)
The only victory, if any, claimed by marriage equality activists in New York and New Jersey in the past couple of months has been outing dissenting state senators, on record and on camera. It looks like the proponents of Prop 8 aren‚t going to have to similarly face the cameras this time…just tweets.