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High court denies broadcasters access to audio recordings

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  1. Court Access
The U.S. Supreme Court's denial on Wednesday of broadcasters' requests to gain access to audio tapes in a case over…

The U.S. Supreme Court’s denial on Wednesday of broadcasters’ requests to gain access to audio tapes in a case over a religious controversy means that this will be the first full term in four years that the court has not released expedited audio of arguments in at least one high-profile case, The Associated Press reported.

Since Bush v. Gore in 2000, the court has occasionally allowed for the quick release of audio tapes in high-profile cases because court prohibits videotaping. Since the current term began in October, the court has denied seven requests by the media to access tapes early.

C-Span, Fox, ABC, and CNN all requested access to the tapes in the First Amendment case Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which the court will hear next Tuesday. The case involves a Christian group that was denied recognition on the University of California Hastings College of the Law campus.

Like the court’s reluctance to release expedited audio recordings, its response to video cameras in the courtroom is chilly. On Thursday, Justices Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas discussed that very issue during their annual budget hearing before a House subcommittee, The New York Times reported.

Justice Breyer expressed doubt that video tapes would actually help the public understand the court better, as much of the process does not happen in open court. Also at the hearing, Justice Thomas joked with congressmen about his streak of not having asked a question in oral arguments since February 2006.