The Supreme Court split along ideological lines Wednesday as it barred a federal judge in San Francisco from broadcasting a high-profile trial involving marriage equality.
The court issued an unsigned opinion that said lower courts had not followed proper procedure in approving plans for the broadcast. The trial is to consider the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, and the Supreme Court cited arguments from proponents of the ban that releasing video of witnesses could subject them to harassment and even physical danger.
The court’s liberal bloc — joined for the first time in an ideological split by Sonia Sotomayor, the new justice — issued a strong dissent. It said the court’s “extraordinary legal relief” was unjustified.
The majority “identifies no real harm” from televising the trial, “let alone irreparable harm to justify its issuance of this stay,” wrote Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who was joined by Sotomayor and Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “And the public interest weighs in favor of providing access to the courts.”
The court on Monday blocked U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s plan to stream live video from the trial, which started that day, to five courthouses across the country and to later release the proceedings for broadcast on YouTube. The justices’ more complete ruling came at the end of the day Wednesday.
The opinion came from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
It was the second time the court has intervened with an emergency order in the sensitive issue of gay rights. In the fall, it barred Washington state officials from releasing the names of those who had signed petitions to overturn a state law giving benefits to same-sex couples.
Basically, conservatives on the Supreme Court know that Prop 8′s arguments rest on lies disseminated through :30 second ads, direct mail and Sunday sermons. If subject to direct questioning and logic, these lies would be exposed. Justice Scalia and his companions clearly understand the power of light as a disinfectant for their crass bigotry. This is why they intervened to keep the true argument in the shadows.
These cowards hid behind the false argument that witnesses in support of Prop 8 might be subject to intimidation, harassment and even violence. Based on this standard, the Supreme court should outlaw all referendums on gay rights. Each time one of these hate measures are put on the ballot, it unleashes anti-gay gay sentiment, placing all LGBT people in danger.
Social conservatives are showing their true colors. They are not pro-marriage, but anti-gay and their hearts are filled with malice. Who would want such naked bigotry and loathing exposed on television? Certainly, not Scalia and his conservative puppets in the big, white, marble building.
When it comes right down to it, supporters of Proposition 8 are ashamed of their discriminatory beliefs. In this case, justice will truly be blind – unfortunately because no one will be able to see the court case.
This is truly disgraceful intervention on behalf of the Supreme Court.