Monday, January 11, 2010

Follow Up on the Prop 8 Trial

It's not quite clear yet whether or not the US Supreme Court decision to temporarily bar video streaming from the courtroom is a major blow to same-sex marriage.

First, it was one judge's decision (Justice Kennedy, left) under whose jurisdiction Judge Walker's (Prop 8 judge) district exists.  Right now, the ruling simply means, "we haven't had enough time to consider what the defendants have presented to us." (The defendants -- Prop 8 supporters -- went to the Supreme Court to block cameras, saying they feared for their safety.)  It is still very possible that the Supreme Court could decide this week that cameras should be allowed.

If the Supreme Court does bar the cameras permanently, that is not good.  The hope is that with cameras, the defendants would be less likely to make unsubstantiated claims against LGBT people.  Logic is not on their side, so they have often turned to emotion.  It was hoped that in a televised court trial, the pro-gay marriage side would win a public relations victory.

Of course, it is also possible that a Supreme Court decision to permanently bar cameras would be just that and not a harbinger of how the Supreme Court would ultimately decide a same-sex marriage case.  What is worrisome (at least to me) is that Kennedy was the one who ruled to temporarily bar cameras.  With the departure of Sandra Day O'Connor, Kennedy is seen as the swing vote, a somewhat moderate voice in a conservative court.  If this is an indication of his feelings about same-sex marriage, it's over.  If it is merely an indication of his feelings about televising the trial, we could be in better shape.

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