Supreme Court Prop 8 and DOMA Live Stream: Can You Watch Oral Arguments Online?

The Supreme Court notoriously does not allow video or cameras into its chambers. 

As gay rights activists are descending on the Supreme Court today for Hollingsworth v. Perry, which considers the constitutionality California's Prop 8, there will not be any live streaming video of the oral arguments. :-(

The same goes for Wednesday, when the Court will hear U.S. v. Windsor (the DOMA case), on whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional. Double :-(

The Supreme Court has never wavered in its opposition to allowing cameras into its courtroom. It has steadfastly held that position despite the fact that ALL 50 states allow camera access in some form and that lower federal courts have been “experimenting” with the practice since the early 1990s — at roughly the same time that the Canadian Supreme Court let them in without incident.

As Slate reports, for decades, the debate over cameras in the Court has gone something like this: the press pleads for permission and the Court says no; academics make policy arguments that the Court ignores; and Congress threatens to force cameras into the Court, but the justices don’t blink. The argument remains deadlocked, with the justices insisting that they will not risk the integrity of the court until they can be certain of the effects and camera proponents arguing that it is impossible to know the effects until cameras are allowed inside.

Alas, in this age of instant media, here we are.

The Supreme Court will release audio at 1 p.m. In a statement they said: "The Court will provide [expedited] audio recordings and transcripts of the oral arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, [today] and United States v. Windsor [tomorrow] ... The Court will post the audio recordings and unofficial transcripts as soon as the digital files are available ... The audio recordings and transcripts should be available no later than 1 p.m. [today] and no later than 2 p.m. [tomorrow]."


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