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

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  1. Court Access

Washington, D.C. – The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has written to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts asking the Court to allow audio and video recording of upcoming oral arguments in the three cases involving proposed federal health-care legislation.

“Because the health care reform law deeply affects millions of Americans, there likely will be a strong interest nationwide in closely following the proceedings as, or shortly after, they occur,” the Reporters Committee letter stated. “As such, the Court’s current policy of releasing audio recordings of arguments at the end of the week will not adequately satisfy this strong public interest in being timely informed of important developments in a matter of such overwhelming impact on such a widespread scale.”

The letter also noted that delaying the release of argument recordings “will impede journalists’ ability to provide same-day coverage of the arguments.” The following media organizations joined the Reporters Committee’s letter:

  • ABC News
  • A. H. Belo Corp.
  • Allbritton Communications Co. on behalf of WJLA-TV and NewsChannel 8
  • ALM Media, LLC
  • 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
  • Citizen Media Law Project
  • Consumer Reports
  • Cox Media Group, Inc.
  • Dow Jones & Co., Inc.
  • The E.W. Scripps Co.
  • First Amendment Coalition
  • Gannett Co., Inc.
  • Hearst Corp.
  • Los Angeles Times
  • The McClatchy Co.
  • 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
  • The Newspaper Guild – CWA
  • Newspaper Association of America
  • The Newsweek/Daily Beast Co. LLC
  • North Jersey Media Group Inc.
  • NPR, Inc.
  • Online News Association
  • Reuters America LLC
  • The Seattle Times Co.
  • Society of Professional Journalists
  • Stephens Media LLC
  • Time Inc.
  • Tribune Co.
  • The Washington Post
  • WNET

“Federal health-care reform affects everyone’s well-being, and everyone has the right to see and hear the arguments over this important issue made before the highest court in the country,” said Reporters Committee Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish. “And they have the right to see it and hear it as it happens.”

Barring the approval of cameras in the Supreme Court, the Reporters Committee proposed the Court at least consider immediate release of audio recordings, such as it did during the contested presidential election of 2000 and when considering campaign finance reform laws.

“To be sure, the American public’s access to affordable health care is among the most significant issues to inform public debate in this country and to come before its highest Court in many years,” the letter said. “The time has come” for public access to include visual recordings.

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.