The U.S. Supreme Court, with one justice writing in dissent, agreed today with attorneys who argued against the broadcasting and posting of the trial proceedings in Perry v. Schwarzenegger – the case challenging the constitutionality of California’s popularly approved Proposition 8 preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Court granted a temporary stay prohibiting any streaming video broadcast outside the courthouse.
Presiding Judge Vaughn Walker had ruled last week that the proceedings in the case could be filmed and posted on YouTube after each day’s testimony. Attorneys defending Prop 8 had argued against the delayed broadcasting via the Internet on the grounds that to do so could both influence the content of the testimony and foster subsequent intimidation of, or reprisals against, experts testifying on behalf of traditional marriage.
The grounds for that concern were articulated in a guest editorial in the New York Times this morning by former U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese, chairman of The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Incidents of vandalism, harassment, employment retaliation, and even physical violence were common against proponents of Prop 8 in the wake of balloting on the issue in November 2008.
The Supreme Court’s stay extends to 4:00 pm this Wednesday to allow the Justices time to review the briefs on the issue filed with the court by both sides in the litigation. If the Supreme Court allows the video posting, Perry will become the first trial in the U.S. 9th Circuit to be broadcast in such a manner, an unlikely candidate for such a pilot program according to legal observers.