The Supreme Court has denied a request by judicial reform group Fix the Court to release same-day audio of April 19 oral argument in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer.
According to executive director Gabe Roth, Supreme Court public information officer Kathy Arberg said that the court will follow the "usual practice" for posting oral argument audio, which is not same day.
The case, which is being argued April 19, deals with the separation of church and state and whether churches can be excluded from an otherwise secular aid program. It will be one of the first big cases heard by the full court, including the just-seated Trump-appointed associate justice Neil Gorsuch.
But the federal court access news was not all bad.
Fix the Court sent a letter to federal appeals courts March 27 asking for live streamed audio of important cases, and Roth says it has drawn some promising responses, including from the Eighth Circuit, where the chief judge has reportedly asked for information on the technology and signaled it could be on the agenda for the September circuit-wide meeting.
“Lower courts look to the Supreme Court for how to apply precedent and decide cases, but the justices should also be setting the tone for how the judiciary conducts itself in terms of openness and accountability—tasks at which the high court has failed miserably,” said Roth. “Thankfully, many circuits are taking the initiative to modernize on their own," he said, including by "implementing more contemporary broadcast policies."