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…But at Least It will Make a Good Made-for-TV Movie

January 13th, 2010 No comments

As I more or less expected, the U.S. Supreme Court has just ruled, 5-4, to continue to block the broadcasting — even the delayed broadcasting — of the Prop 8 trial. As I stated a couple of days ago, this action just ensures that we’ll continue to get our information through filters from the left, rights, and center. Yes, we can piece together the story in broad outline from these sources, if we want to take the time to synthesize all of this. But what a needless obstacle to information.

And the idea that the Prop 8 supporters will be harassed or threatened by the trial? By applying that reasoning across the spectrum of cases, the public dissemination of knowledge would be greatly reduced, indeed. One should have to show a clear and imminent danger for such a claim to carry the day, not the kind of speculative harm that’s really all that’s alleged here. Indeed, the brief filed in support of the defendant’s motion devoted all of one-half of one page to this argument, citing an earlier Supreme Court criminal law case, where (obviously) safety of witnesses and jurors might be a concern.

I was struck by this comment on another blogsite:

I really hope someone’s writing a book or a screenplay in order to present this material to middle America in the near future!

That says it all. Let’s wait for an easily digested version of the actual event, suitable for “the masses.” Why not let all of see it as it happens, and avoid the commercial calculations about what versions should get made? Or is this too obvious?

The Court, though, sidestepped these more difficult issues by ruling that the order to broadcast was procedurally deficient (the lower court did change its rules “at the eleventh hour,” as the Court said). I’m trying to get my hands on the full opinion and will have more to say after I’ve thoroughly digested it. For now, I note the distressing (if wearily predictable) fact that the 5-4 split was along the usual conservative-moderate (by no fair lexical stretch can these four be called “liberal”) fault line. Is this ruling a harbinger of the ultimate decision when the case reaches the Court? Who knows, but I’m not encouraged.

Enjoy whatever scraps you’re able to get from those “on the ground.” A terrible shame, really.

Update: 6:08 EST You can find the decision here. Most of the squabbling between the majority (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito) and the dissent (Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor) had to do with the way the rule permitting broadcast was put into effect. The majority disclaims any ruling on the merits of whether trials should be broadcast in the first place. The dissent seems skeptical of this statement. So am I.