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RCFP, Fix the Court urge Second Circuit to provide live audio of oral arguments in Trump tax return case

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The Reporters Committee and Fix The Court are urging the Second Circuit to provide live audio of Trump v. Vance.

Update (Oct. 29, 2019): On Monday, Oct. 21, RCFP and Fix the Court were notified that the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit agreed to allow live-streamed audio of oral arguments in Trump v. Vance. At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23, the appeals court live-streamed audio via C-SPAN and NBC News. Over 40,000 people tuned in to hear the arguments.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Fix the Court, a nonprofit that advocates for greater access to the federal courts, are urging the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to livestream audio of oral arguments in a high-profile case involving President Donald Trump’s tax returns. The argument is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Oct. 23.

The news media coalition argued in a letter sent to the court on Oct. 10 that, because of the heightened public interest in following this proceeding, the court should provide a live audio feed of the oral argument in Trump v. Vance. Because “attending the arguments would be entirely impractical,” both the Reporters Committee and Fix the Court argue that a live audio feed would help Americans follow this case as contemporaneously as possible.

On Monday, Oct.7, Judge Victor Marrero of the Federal District Court in Manhattan rejected Trump’s argument that, as president, he was immune to criminal investigation, and dismissed the president’s lawsuit to block a subpoena for eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns. Last August, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. demanded these records as part of his investigation into payments made before the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s lawyers quickly appealed to the Second Circuit, asking to delay enforcement of the subpoena.

Most recently, the Second Circuit provided a live audio feed in Trump v. Committee on Financial Services, a case concerning subpoenas from two House of Representatives committees trying to obtain financial records from Trump and his children. In addition, lower federal courts have taken steps to open their proceedings to both audio and video broadcasts. All 13 federal appeals courts allow for some form of audio broadcast of arguments, either in real-time or with a slight delay. The Second Circuit already has an existing same-day audio policy for oral arguments.

Read the full letter submitted to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.

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