Federal appeals court rules Prop 8 trial videotapes to remain sealed


A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled against the release of the videotapes of the Proposition 8 trial, the federal court challenge of California‘s 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

In a unanimous decision, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a lower court’s ruling and concluded that the videotapes should remain under seal.

Siding with the ban’s supporters, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled the public doesn’t have the right to see the footage that former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker had produced with the caveat it would be used only by him to help him reach a verdict.

Chief Judge Walker “promised the litigants that the conditions under which the recording was maintained would not change — that there was no possibility that the recording would be broadcast to the public in the future,” a three-judge 9th Circuit panel said in a unanimous opinion.

“Regrettably, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided not to unseal the video record of the historic twelve-day public trial of Prop. 8,” said Chad Griffin, Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the sole sponsor of the federal court challenge to Proposition 8.

“It speaks volumes that the proponents of Proposition 8 spent millions on a political campaign to publicize their views, yet they have done everything they can to stop the public from seeing the weak case they put on at trial,” Griffin said, in a statement.

The same 9th Circuit panel is also considering whether Proposition 8 is constitutional. That decision, which could come any day, is expected to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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