Prop 8 Arguments at 9th Circuit to Be Televised

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on November 24, 2010 11:51 AM

Will the revolution be televised? If you consider the arguments regarding California's ban on same sex marriage, Proposition 8, to be in any way revolutionary, then the answer is yes.

A federal court of appeals has ruled that both C-Span and local news station KGO-TV may televise the arguments before the court. Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard December 6.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the appeal from the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker finding Prop 8 to be unconstitutional. At the time the trial was scheduled, Judge Walker was considering allowing cameras in the courtroom for a live feed. However, the proponents of Prop 8 objected, saying their witnesses would be harassed or otherwise prevented from testifying freely. The U.S. Supreme Court (a body not overly fond of cameras in the courtroom) ruled the trial could not be filmed.

The 9th Circuit, however, may have more leeway to control its own environment. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the court has allowed requests to film in the past. In addition, the argument that witnesses would be intimidated by cameras does not apply in a court of appeals. Unlike a trial court, an appellate court deals with questions of law based on the record formed at the trial level. No witnesses appear to give first-hand evidence; thus, questions of intimidation, harassment and a chilling effect on testimony would not apply.

If the proponents of Prop 8 manage to resolve the on-going question of whether they have the legal right (standing) to even appeal, the court might actually reach the constitutional questions raised by the case. If that happens, the Supreme Court would then likely have the last word. However, there are no guarantees that that is the path the case will take. The TV cameras in the courtroom might well be there to film "The End" of Prop 8.

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