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Supreme Court Blocks YouTube Broadcast of Prop 8 Trial

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Responding to an emergency appeal, the US Supreme Court ruled this morning to block the broadcast of proceedings in the Perry et al v. Schwarzenegger et al case, which seeks to challenge California’s Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban.

Last week, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco ruled that the trial should be filmed for later distribution via YouTube. The broadcast would have been the first of a recently approved pilot program for airing footage from non-jury civil trials on the online video site, drawing attention from not just Californians, but from citizens throughout the US.

Under the temporary order, the justices said they would halt filming of the trial “except as it permits streaming to other rooms within the confines of the courthouse in which the trial is to be held.” The decision will be in effect until at least Wednesday, Jan. 13, to give the court more time to consider the appeal. But the trial already began this morning, so regardless of the justices’ final decision, the first few days won’t be available to viewers outside the courtroom.

The decision comes after defenders of Prop 8 sought to ban cameras from the courtroom, claiming that they could be subject to harassment and intimidation if their testimony found its way online. Meanwhile, those who seek to overturn Prop 8 were campaigning to have the trial broadcast on television, not just online.