Archives – May, 2010
By Julia Rosen
Today, we sent a Courage Campaign Institute letter to Judge Vaughn Walker urging him to approve the Media Coalition’s request that they be allowed to televise the closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
There was some confusion earlier this week over this issue, when the AP jumped the gun and said Walker had decided on the issue. However, the only thing that changed was that a notice was posted to the court’s website that trial would not be broadcast outside of the courtroom. We weren’t about to give up so we penned the letter. The letter includes the following:
As we wrote in January to support the request to televise the trial, openness and transparency are necessary to the proper functioning of our courts—particularly in this case because of its implications for federal law, state laws and the lives of tens of millions of Americans. This has taken on an increased importance in light of efforts by the defense in Perry v. Schwarzenegger to strike already admitted evidence from the trial record.
We believe that Americans have the right to know what is being said and argued in their courts, and allowing cameras in the courtroom to broadcast the closing arguments is the best, most efficient way to provide this level of transparency.
As this court and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer recognized, 138,542 public comments were submitted in favor of televising the Prop 8 trial, and only 32 were submitted against televising the trial. The public has already demonstrated a clear desire for the kind of access to this trial that television cameras can best provide.
I’d be lying if I said I thought it was a slam dunk that the trial will be televised, but we will keep pushing for as much transparency, access and attention on this trial as possible.
By Julia Rosen
Here is the deal. Senator Carl Levin and Rep. Patrick Murphy worked together and in coordination with the White House and Department of Defense to craft a compromise, which upon passage remove Congress as an obstacle to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. President Obama has always said that there needed to be an act of congress giving him permission to repeal the policy and this does that and not a whole lot more.
This piece of legislation gives no date for repeal. It states that it cannot happen until the Gates/Mullen are done with their review and are satisfied that it would not harm unit cohesion or readiness. Passage of this amendment does not put in place a policy of non-discrimination. For more background see this excellent piece in the Advocate.
All of that said, considering DADT repeal was nearly dead last week, it is impressive that this amendment is viable and due to a tremendous amount of grassroots pressure and the leadership by Levin and Murphy (check out this interview with Murphy).
How this gets passed through congress is a bit of sausage making. First, the Senate Armed Services Committee will vote on this language as an amendment to the defense authorization bill. It’s known as a “must-pass” bill, one that is unlikely to be vetoed and is tough to filibuster. We are thisclose on having the votes to pass it through the committee. Right now, either we need Sen. Bayh to vote for it (and he is believed to be a 98% certain yes vote) or Sen. Byrd not to show or to vote yes. Bryd has been ill for a while and does not always make it to vote.
That vote in committee is likely to happen tomorrow. Once the Senate votes to approve, the House will bring it up on the full floor with identical language. That is supposed to happen tomorrow as well, however, sometimes things take longer than expected when it comes to Congress. Shocking I know. That said, it’s a pretty safe bet that it all gets done by Friday, given that Congress can’t wait to get out of town for the recess.
That will leave a full vote on the Senate floor on the defense bill left to go. Senator McCain is now threatening to filibuster that bill, assuming the amendment gets attached to it in committee.
No matter what happens Thursday or Friday there will be a fight to make sure it passes the full Senate and that the Department of Defense and President Obama don’t drag it out indefinitely.
For more tidbits, see this good round up post from Adam Bink over at Open Left.
By Julia Rosen
Well this is a bummer, but unsurprising. AP:
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker issued a notice Tuesday stating that the final arguments scheduled for June 16 will not be transmitted beyond the San Francisco courthouse where he is hearing the case.
There is no reasoning that I can find, just this notice, which is now posted on the U.S. District Court website:
Chief Judge Walker has scheduled closing arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger for June 16, 2010 at 10:00 A.M. The proceedings are scheduled to end at 4:00 p.m., although the exact time cannot be predicted. A ruling is not expected on the day of the closing arguments.
All reserved seating passes have been allocated. Very limited seating is available on a first-come, first-serve basis for the main courtroom.
Simultaneous video transmission will be available in the ceremonial courtroom on the 19th Floor of the federal courthouse and for media representatives in the court’s media center on the first floor.
There will be no simultaneous transmission of the proceedings outside the courthouse.
We will be liveblogging the proceedings, just like we did the rest of the case and will be doing our best to ensure that what happens inside that courtroom in San Francisco does not stay in that courtroom.
[UPDATE] As noted in the comments, the AP has updated their story and added this note at the bottom:
(This version CORRECTS Corrects to say judge has NOT ruled on media coalition request.)
What we have is a notice posted on the court’s website that there will be no video outside of the courthouse, but not a specific ruling on the Media Coalition request.