Supreme Court Bar Members Push Permanent Livestream Audio

Supreme Court of the United States
(Image credit: Mike Kline (notkalvin) via Getty Images)

Four dozen members of the Supreme Court bar have written Chief Justice John Roberts to ask the when the pandemic ends, the current practice of streaming oral argument audio should continue permanently.

While the streaming was a way to honor the Constitution's public trial mandate during the lockdown and in-person restrictions, the attorneys, who collectively have argued over 400 Supreme Court cases according to Fix the Court, said the streams have proved to be teaching tools for "scores" of law professors and a way for hundreds of media outlets to let viewers and listeners "hear directly from the justices, unfiltered and in real time."

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They told Roberts that, because of that electronic access, "thousands of Americans have come to understand the seriousness and the care with which you and your colleagues treat each case and each advocate who comes before the Court."

They argue there are no technical difficulties and said they don't mind that arguments now run a little longer than average. They also said there has been no damage to court decorum.

While some of the signatories to the letter would like to see justices' reading of summaries of released opinions--which happens before oral argument--should also be livestreamed, and others say that live audio should ultimately morph into live video, the letter was focused on audio livestreaming. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.