Media coalition asks U.S. Supreme Court to allow audio, video coverage of health-care reform opinion

Press Release | June 14, 2012

(Clarification: The Reporters Committee and media coalition are asking the Court to allow live audio and video coverage of the release of the opinion in the health care cases. In the conclusion of the letter, we are asking that if the Court decides not to allow live audio and video, that it at least release the Court's own audio recording of the hearing as soon as the hearing ends.)

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a coalition of media organizations asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow live audio and video coverage of the announcement of its decision in the three cases involving proposed federal health-care legislation.

"There is a strong interest nationwide in the Court’s opinion and any comments by a member of the Court that may accompany its announcement," the Reporters Committee letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts stated. "Such access would allow the public to be informed of the Court’s ruling in a timely manner."

The following media organizations, most of which joined the Reporters Committee's Nov. 18, 2011, request that the Court provide audio and video access to oral arguments in the case, signed on to this letter:

  • ABC News
  • A. H. Belo Corporation
  • Allbritton Communications Company
  • ALM Media, LLC
  • American Society of News Editors
  • The Associated Press
  • Association of Alternative Newsweeklies
  • Atlantic Media, Inc.
  • Bay Area News Group
  • Belo Corp.
  • Bloomberg News
  • Cable News Network, Inc.
  • California Newspaper Publishers Association
  • CBS Broadcasting Inc.
  • Chicago Tribune
  • Consumer Reports
  • Cox Media Group, Inc.
  • The C-SPAN Networks
  • Digital Media Law Project
  • Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
  • The E.W. Scripps Company
  • First Amendment Coalition
  • Gannett Co., Inc.
  • Hearst Corporation
  • Los Angeles Times
  • The McClatchy Company
  • MPA – The Association of Magazine Media
  • National Association of Broadcasters
  • The National Press Club
  • National Press Photographers Association
  • NBCUniversal Media, LLC
  • New York Daily News
  • The New York Times
  • Newspaper Association of America
  • The Newspaper Guild – CWA
  • The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC
  • North Jersey Media Group Inc.
  • NPR, Inc.
  • Online News Association
  • POLITICO LLC
  • Reuters America LLC
  • The Seattle Times Company
  • Society of Professional Journalists
  • Stephens Media LLC
  • Time Inc.
  • Tribune Company
  • USA Today
  • The Washington Post
  • WNET

"I am aware that various members of the Court have expressed concern that live television coverage of its proceedings may negatively affect the character and flow of the back-and-forth discussion between attorneys and justices," Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish said in the letter. "But this interest is clearly not implicated when the proceeding at issue involves the summary of an opinion rather than the interaction at oral argument."

Barring the approval of live video coverage of the announcement, the Reporters Committee proposed the Court at least consider immediate or, at a minimum, delayed release of audio recordings of the announcement.

The coalition requests "the Court allow the American public the opportunity to learn contemporaneously or near-contemporaneously how it resolved one of the most significant issues to come before it in many years," the letter stated.

About the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Founded in 1970, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press offers free legal support to thousands of working journalists and media lawyers each year. It is a leader in the fight against persistent efforts by government officials to impede the release of public information, whether by withholding documents or threatening reporters with jail. In addition to its 24/7 Legal Defense Hotline, the Reporters Committee conducts cutting-edge legal research, publishes handbooks and guides on media law issues, files frequent friend-of-the-court legal briefs and offers challenging fellowships and internships for young lawyers and journalists. For more information, go to www.rcfp.org, or follow us on Twitter @rcfp.

Related Reporters Committee resources:

· Brief: Letter to U.S. Supreme Court on access to arguments in health care reform law cases

· Release: Reporters Committee asks U.S. Supreme Court to allow audio, video coverage of health-care reform arguments