Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tenth Circuit Same-Sex Marriage Arguments: Letter Requesting Online Audio

This letter was sent to Chief Judge Mary Beck Briscoe of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

February 22, 2014

Dear Chief Judge Briscoe:

This letter is a request for the Tenth Circuit to consider posting argument audio online, as a routine matter, and for the same-sex marriage arguments in April, specifically. My interest is as a lawyer, freelance journalist, and citizen.

The U.S. Supreme Court and ten federal appellate circuits post argument audio to their websites. Only three circuits, including the Tenth Circuit, do not. The Tenth Circuit is the only one of the three that requires a motion to be filed to obtain audio.

The April arguments about the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans will be part of American legal history, as the country and the courts weigh this important issue. There will be national and even international interest in the arguments. The Tenth Circuit courtroom cannot accommodate that level of interest, nor can any courtroom. Since the proceedings are public, this presents a meaningful gap in public access.

Posting audio of the arguments online would help fill this gap. It would also reduce the administrative burden on Tenth Circuit judges, staff, and persons requesting audio, as motions would not need to be filed or processed.

The Supreme Court, famously cautious on access, has been posting its audio to the Internet since 2010. The Ninth Circuit recently began live streaming audio of all arguments and video of en banc arguments.

It would be greatly appreciated if the Tenth Circuit would review its current policy and join the Supreme Court and most of its sister circuits in offering access to argument audio online, particularly for the April marriage arguments.

Thank you for your consideration.