Tuesday, September 28, 2010

C-SPAN Statement on New Oral Argument Policy

C-SPAN issued a statement on the Supreme Court's new oral argument policy; namely, that the Court will post argument audio to its website each Friday during argument weeks.  C-SPAN '"applaud[s]'" the Court's announcement, but "'regret[s] that . . . occasional same-day release of arguments in cases with heightened public interest'" will no longer be available for reporting by media outlets.

While the media concern is valid, on balance, the Court's new policy is a giant leap forwardfrom annual to weekly audio access.  Perhaps the Court is trying on increased public access for size?  Will more readily available audio snippets be reported out of context or participants start playing to the audience and jockeying for soundbites (concerns raised about televising arguments)?  See here for concerns and support.  Or will none of these problems materialize?  If the experiment goes well, the greatly accelerated release policy could be a prelude to cameras in the courtroom.

C-SPAN hopes so, anyway, concluding with this wish list: "'We continue to hope that the Court’s next step will be same-day release of all oral arguments, and ultimately, television coverage of its public sessions.'"