Up to the Top: Prop 8 Proponents Ask Supreme Court to Halt YouTube Coverage

Yet another update to the ongoing wrangling over plans to show the the Prop 8 trial on YouTube:

Proponents of Prop 8 this morning asked the Supreme Court to step in and halt plans to show the proceedings on the web video site, a day after the Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their last-minute effort.

In a filing to Justice Anthony Kennedy, they asked for a stay to halt Judge Vaughn Walker’s plans to show the trial, which starts on Monday, pending their plans to petition the Supreme Court via a writ of certiorari. 

In a filing from chief counsel Charles Cooper, they reiterated their argument that the plans for televised coverage diverges from “long standing policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States,” but they also go further and claim that it is the result of “unlawful process used to ensure that the proceedings in this particular case would be broadcast, regardless of the consequences.”

They claim that the plans for cameras would cause witnesses “irreparable harm,” and undermine the chance for a fair trial. They also argue that the idea of a broadcast — made possible by a recently launched pilot program — was put into place without the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals conducting a full review, including comments from the public.

The case is Perry vs. Schwarzenegger. Proponents include Protectmarriage.com and Dennis Hollingsworth, Gail Knight, Martin Gutierrez and Mark Jansson, all of whom “intervened” to take the role of defendants in the case after the state of California declined to do so.

The trial also will be simulcast via closed circuit to courtrooms in Portland, Seattle, Pasadena and Brooklyn, N.Y.

Update: The plans for YouTube coverage still have not been cleared by Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit still has to sign off on the plans. In an order from late Friday, he approved the closed circuit broadcasts to other courtrooms, but wrote that the request for posting of the video files “is still pending.”

Second Update: The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the org that is backing the case, has until noon tomorrow to issue a response to the Supreme Court on the effort to block camera coverage.

Chad Griffin, the foundation’s board president, said in a statement: “Those who want to ban gay marriage spent millions of dollars to reach the public with misleading ads, rallies and news conferences during the campaign to pass Prop. 8.  We are curious why they now fear the publicity they once craved. Apparently transparency is their enemy, but the people deserve to know exactly what it is they have to hide.”

From a public opinion point of view, it’s important for same-sex marriage advocates to have the case televised — and even in many ways for Judge Vaughn Walker — because of the almost certain blowback that will come if Walker decides that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. Without it, the argument that “activist” judges are legislating from the bench becomes all that much easier, because the decisions are being handed down from a faceless court. Television coverage certainly won’t eliminate those arguments, but it could help diffuse them.

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