U.S. Supreme Court

ABA president calls for continued access to SCOTUS oral arguments amid coronavirus crisis

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ABA President Judy Perry Martinez is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to continue to provide the public with live audio streams of its oral arguments in the October 2020 term.

In a letter to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Wednesday, Martinez wrote that nearly 2 million people, including many ABA members, listened to the 10 oral arguments that the court heard by teleconference in May as a result of COVID-19.

“From all accounts, livestreaming has been a watershed event that has been roundly praised by the legal community, the media and, most importantly, by the public who have appreciated the increased transparency, accountability and opportunity to improve their understanding of the vital role of the Supreme Court in their daily lives,” she said.

Martinez said that while the ABA once opposed broadcast coverage, it “has reevaluated and revised its position several times, based on the extensive and positive experience of state courts and the more limited experience of some lower federal courts that permit electronic access to some proceedings.”

The association also adopted policy in 2016 that calls on the Supreme Court to eventually provide video recordings of its oral arguments. Martinez acknowledged that the court is “not ready to embrace such a change at this time, but we hope it will in due course.”

“We hope the Supreme Court and the Judicial Conference will continue to demonstrate a willingness to reevaluate and expand its policies on audio and video coverage of court proceedings in light of recent experiences during this COVID-19 pandemic,” she added.

See also:

ABA Journal: “Chemerinsky: SCOTUS should embrace technology reforms prompted by pandemic”

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