Supreme Court

The D.C. Circuit Will Soon Livestream Oral Arguments

And yet the Supreme Court is still reluctant to release same-day audio recordings.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Starting this fall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will provide livestream audio of almost all oral arguments. A statement released by the court reads:

Chief Judge Garland announced today that the Court has voted to live stream audio of all oral arguments, except when classified or sealed matters must be discussed. The Court has been live streaming audio of oral arguments upon request since October 2017. Chief Judge Garland stated that "this is an important additional step in bringing transparency to our proceedings."

The court will also post audio recordings of oral arguments by 2pm on the days of argument for those who miss the livestream. [Update: As I should have noted in the initial post, the posting of same-day audio is not new for the D.C. Circuit. It has been doing this in most cases since 2013.]

Meanwhile, a few blocks away at One First Street, oral argument audio is not released until the Friday after argument. Even though the Supreme Court has released same-day audio without incident or problem in high-profile cases, the justices remain reluctant to allow people to hear the Court's arguments the day they are delivered.

Whatever the merits of livestreaming (or argument video) the Supreme Court's policy is unduly and unreasonably restrictive. Perhaps the new openness of the D.C. Circuit will help induce a change.

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  1. Personally, I’d like to see justice kept “off the street”, if you will. The sc breaking with its tradition seemed like an error.

    1. Not clear how having oral arguments as they occur as compared to Friday (except for a few cases … but the public shouldn’t think the others aren’t important!) affects that much one way or the other.

  2. I have to ask, is the Supreme Court’s reluctance partially based on capacity? A simple county board meeting from anywhere in America requires someone to clean the audio and such and put it in a good format. Moreover, a large courtroom has to be mic’d up properly and it might require switching between audio sources depending on who is speaking. It’s not as cut and dry as one would think, depending on the technology available to staff. I can see that for big cases they re-assign some staff to do it, pushing the deadline back for other cases, but that for ordinary cases the communications staff get to it within a certain standard deadline of a week.

  3. “Chief Judge Garland announced today ”

    Ha ha.

    1. It is hard not to relish that, isn’t it? Try as I might to be a better person, I can’t not do so.

  4. “the Supreme Court’s policy is unduly”

    …or un-duely?

  5. They will come around. The slow way is the sure way.

  6. No wonder the NFL decided it needs to get its viewers back…with this sort of competition breathing down their necks.

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