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History Petitions High Court to Tape Arguments

WASHINGTON -The History Channel filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court last Wednesday, asking permission to videotape the oral argument in the Texas Gov. George W. Bush's case against the Palm Beach County (Fla.) Canvassing Board in the disputed 2000 presidential election.

"While we can appreciate the court's response to the request for pooled news coverage, our interest in videotaping the argument is based on our editorial mission to record and preserve history in the making," Nickolas Davatzes, CEO of A & E Television Networks, said in a statement.

The network plans to use the footage for a historical documentary on American presidential politics. It claimed its request was different from those of C-SPAN and Courtroom Television Network in that it would record the arguments for the historical record, rather than provide live coverage.

In a letter to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, History contended it wanted to "present this important moment in American history at some future time in documentary form on The History Channel."

This past week, History aired a four-part documentary miniseries,
The Founding Fathers
, which examined the human side of America's first political leaders including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and James Madison. Earlier this month, the network provided 12 mini-documentaries to The Smithsonian Institution for its exhibition
The American Presidency