In a filing with U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who will preside over the case on the law’s constitutionality, Proposition 8 sponsors said that TV coverage of the trial could expose witnesses to harassment and intimidation and that some have already “indicated that they would not be willing to testify” if the trial is televised.
The letter was filed in response to a recent request from various media organizations to televise the trial, which is set to begin January 11 in San Francisco.
State courts in California and many other states allow cameras with the judge’s consent, but federal courts have historically prohibited them during trials.
But on December 17, the Judicial Council of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco approved the nation’s first pilot program for televising nonjury civil trials.
The council said the chief judge of each district in the nine-state circuit, in consultation with the appeals court’s chief judge, Alex Kozinski, would choose cases for camera coverage and set the ground rules, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
A lawyer for the couples challenging Proposition 8 supported television coverage in a filing Tuesday, citing the “overwhelming national public interest in the issues.”
Proposition 8, a November 2008 initiative, amended the state Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, overturning a May 2008 state Supreme Court ruling that allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry.