The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) said
Thursday it was disappointed that the Supreme Court maintained its ban on the
broadcast online or otherwise, of the legal challenge to California's Proposition 8 same-sex marriage
The California Federal District court had said it would
allow the proceedings to be posted on a delayed basis on the court's Web site
and other court sites via YouTube. Not long after, the Judicial Council for the
Ninth Circuit, which includes that court, approved a limited test on televising
trials, conceding the California
court's move was top of mind in the decision.
Media groups then requested to cover the trial, which the
Ban proponents went to the Supreme Court and argued that
would endanger witnesses. The Court temporarily blocked the coverage, then in a
5-4 decision voted to maintain that prohibition, saying that the California court failed
to follow proper procedures and made an 11th-hour change to treat the case
differently from others.
"Our review is confined to a narrow legal issue:
whether the District Court's amendment of its local rules to broadcast this
trial complied with federal law," wrote the court in a per curiam opinion
(one from the entire majority rather than any one judge). "We conclude
that it likely did not and that applicants have demonstrated that irreparable
harm would likely result from the District Court's actions. We therefore stay
the court's Jan. 7, 2010 order to the extent that it permits the live streaming
of court proceedings to other federal courthouses. We do not address other
aspects of that order, such as those related to the broadcast of court proceedings
on the Internet, as this may be premature."
At least the narrowness and the closeness of the decision
gave RTDNA some comfort. "While the Supreme Court split on ideological
grounds, the conservative majority stated that it was expressing no opinion on
the propriety of televised trials," said the group.