Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Supreme Court Blocks Plans to Broadcast Prop. 8 Trial

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Supreme Court Blocks Plans to Broadcast Prop. 8 Trial

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court said that the trial judge in the Prop. 8 case attempted change the federal rules that restrict broadcasts of trials. The case deals with California's gay-marriage ban.

The US Supreme Court has blocked remote broadcasts of a major federal court trial in San Francisco dealing with California's gay- marriage ban.

In a 5-to-4 ruling Wednesday, the justices ordered the federal trial judge to refrain from plans to allow live-stream broadcasts of the case to courtrooms in five other federal courthouses across the country.

The case has generated enormous interest among both supporters and opponents of gay marriage. At issue in the two-week trial is whether California's Proposition 8 ballot initiative banning gay marriage violates US constitutional protections of due process and equal protection. The case, legal analysts say, could work its way through the appeals process to the Supreme Court itself.

Wednesday's ruling did not address the merits of that dispute. Instead, it focused on whether the trial court acted properly in adopting a new policy allowing remote broadcasts and potentially broadcasts of the trial on the Internet.

"The District Court here attempted to revise its rules in haste, contrary to federal statutes and the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States. It did so to allow the broadcasting of this high-profile trial without any considered standards or guidelines in place," the court majority wrote in an unsigned opinion.

The trial judge, the Supreme Court justices said, attempted at the 11th hour to change the federal rules that restrict broadcasts of trials. The effort meant that he was treating the Prop. 8 trial differently from other trials in the same courthouse, said the justices.

"If courts are to require that others follow regular procedures, courts must do so as well," the majority justices said.

Although the decision was unsigned, it was supported by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissent, suggesting he would have allowed the trial judge to proceed with his plan. …

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