Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Coming to a Screen Near You? Not if the Right Has Anything to Say About It.

As if the overly-righteous Prop. 8 advocates weren't offensive enough, now they've been tried to close the proceedings as much as possible to make sure the public doesn't see them make their case for discrimination. In essence, the conservatives have made a strong push to have the cameras removed from the courtroom against the wishes of the gay marriage advocates. It's amazing how these people were so proud to be out in public on the ads when they could control everything and not be questioned as to their beliefs , but once they might have to answer a tough question, they're suddenly scared for their safety. Right. What a bunch of slime balls.

The law on these issues is a little uncertain as of right now. There's a generalized presumption that open courts are a good thing, and there's no way that this would be completely closed. Basically, the public and press has a well established right to have court rooms open (except in special cases involving children, vulnerable victims, private medical records, etc.), but the issue has to do with video and television. The element of the youtube broadcast is a new one for the court to take head on, and they'll address it soon. The most important case law on the matter is the 1980 decision Chandler v. Florida, where the court held that cameras in the court room are allowable so long as they don't infringe on the rights of the involved parties, but more importantly, that states have the right to "experiment with evolving technologies." This should carry the day, but you never know.

I have a hard time seeing how any of the parties are going to demonstrate that their rights are being infringed by the case being shown on youtube. The Prop. 8 supporters have consistently brought themselves into the public arena and the safety concerns are at best shaky.

How is this going to play out? Sotomayer and Breyer are almost slam dunks for allowing cameras in the courtroom, and I think they can get the 5 votes they need. My guess is that Stevens and Ginsburg will join on, so the question is really Kennedy. It's not clear, but I think he might go for it. He seems to be of the persuasion that the courts can decide for themselves, so I'm guessing he'll let the judge do what he wants. Of course Clarence Thomas will vote against it because he's an angry incompetent bigot, and that's how he rolls. Plus, if he's ever on TV he'll look like a moron, and he wants to do what he can to keep that from happening. Scalia probably will also close it down. Alito used to be more open to these things, but he appears to have turned towards closing them, and same for Roberts. One key part of this, of course, is that they're deciding whether a judge can open his own court room, and not whether the Supreme Court has to allow cameras in their court. That's a less likely proposition than letting the trial judge decide for himself.

Of course all of this overlooks the fact that at the heart of the matter is the fact that we should all be offended by the conservatives trying to keep the public from seeing what's happening. If they're as proud and firm in their beliefs, why do they need to hide from the public? Why hide if the facts and law are on your side? I think we can pretty reasonably draw our own conclusions.

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