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SCOTUS Opinion on Cameras in Prop 8 Trial

SCOTUS Opinion on Cameras in Prop 8 Trial

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Published by Unite the Fight

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Published by: Unite the Fight on Jan 15, 2010
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1Cite as: 558 U. S. ____ (2010)Per Curiam
No. 09A648
ON APPLICATION FOR STAY [January 13, 2010]
.We are asked to stay the broadcast of a federal trial. Weresolve that question without expressing any view onwhether such trials should be broadcast. We insteaddetermine that the broadcast in this case should be stayedbecause it appears the courts below did not follow theappropriate procedures set forth in federal law beforechanging their rules to allow such broadcasting. Courtsenforce the requirement of procedural regularity on oth-ers, and must follow those requirements themselves.***This lawsuit, still in a preliminary stage, involves anaction challenging what the parties refer to as Proposition8, a California ballot proposition adopted by the electorate.Proposition 8 amended the State Constitution by adding anew section providing that “[o]nly marriage between aman and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”Cal. Const. Art. I, §7.5. The plaintiffs contend that Propo-sition 8 violates the United States Constitution. A benchtrial in the case began on Monday, January 11, 2010, inthe United States District Court for the Northern Districtof California.The District Court has issued an order permitting thetrial to be broadcast live via streaming audio and video toa number of federal courthouses around the country. The
PERRY Per Curiam
order was issued pursuant to a purported amendment to alocal Rule of the District Court. That Rule had previouslyforbidden the broadcasting of trials outside the courthousein which a trial takes place. The District Court effected itsamendment via several postings on the District Court’sWeb site in the days immediately before the trial in thiscase was to begin. Applicants here are defendant-intervenors in the law-suit. They object to the District Court’s order, arguingthat the District Court violated a federal statute by prom-ulgating the amendment to its local Rule without suffi-cient opportunity for notice and comment and that thepublic broadcast would violate their due process rights to afair and impartial trial. Applicants seek a stay of theorder pending the filing of petitions for writs of certiorariand mandamus. We granted a temporary stay to considerthe issue further.
, p. ___. Concluding that the appli-cants have made a sufficient showing of entitlement torelief, we now grant a stay.IProposition 8 was passed by California voters in No-vember 2008. It was a ballot proposition designed tooverturn a ruling by the California Supreme Court thathad given same-sex couples a right to marry. Proposition8 was and is the subject of public debate throughout theState and, indeed, nationwide. Its advocates claim thatthey have been subject to harassment as a result of publicdisclosure of their support. See,
Reply Brief for Ap-pellant 28–29 in
Citizens United
Federal ElectionComm’n
, No. 08–205, now pending before this Court. Forexample, donors to groups supporting Proposition 8 “havereceived death threats and envelopes containing a pow-dery white substance.” Stone, Prop 8 Donor Web SiteShows Disclosure is a 2-Edged Sword, N. Y. Times, Feb. 8,2009. Some advocates claim that they have received
3Cite as: 588 U. S. ____ (2010)Per Curiam
confrontational phone calls and e-mail messages fromopponents of Proposition 8,
, and others have beenforced to resign their jobs after it became public that theyhad donated to groups supporting the amendment, seeBrief for Center for Competitive Politics as
 Amicus Curiae
13–14, in
Citizens United
Federal Election Comm’n
, No.08–205, now pending before this Court. Opponents of Proposition 8 also are alleged to have compiled “Internetblacklists” of pro-Proposition 8 businesses and urgedothers to boycott those businesses in retaliation for sup-porting the ballot measure. Carlton, Gay Activists BoycottBackers of Prop 8, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 27, 2008, A3. And numerous instances of vandalism and physical vio-lence have been reported against those who have beenidentified as Proposition 8 supporters. See Exhs. B, I, andL to Defendant-Intervenors’ Motion for Protective Order in
, No. 3:09–cv–02292 (ND Cal.)(hereinafter Defendant-Intervenors’ Motion).Respondents filed suit in the United States DistrictCourt for the Northern District of California, seeking toinvalidate Proposition 8. They contend that the amend-ment to the State’s Constitution violates the Equal Protec-tion and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amend-ment of the United States Constitution. The State of California declined to defend Proposition 8, and the defen-dant-intervenors (who are the applicants here) entered thesuit to defend its constitutionality. A bench trial began onMonday, January 11, 2010, before the Chief Judge of theDistrict Court, the Honorable Vaughn R. Walker.On September 25, 2009, the District Court informed theparties at a hearing that there was interest in the possibil-ity that the trial would be broadcast. Respondents indi-cated their support for the idea, while applicants opposedit. The court noted that “[t]here are, of course, JudicialConference positions on this,” but also that “[t]his is all influx.” Exh. 9, p. 72, App. to Pet. for Mandamus in No. 10– 

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