News (USA)

Federal judge rules to allow internet broadcast of Prop 8 trial

Next week’s trial in San Francisco of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, won’t be televised live, but it will be videotaped for delayed internet release on YouTube, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Judge Vaughn R. Walker

“This certainly is a case that has sparked widespread interest,” U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker said at a hearing Wednesday. The nature of the case and its importance warranted “widespread distribution,” he said in announcing his ruling.

Sponsors of the voter-approved Proposition 8 objected to any broadcast, claiming it would intimidate their witnesses and violate their right to a fair trial.

Lawyers for the couples supported video coverage. “What happens in the courtroom is public property,” attorney Theodore Boutrous told Walker.

The videotape will be posted on the District Court’s YouTube channel daily, later the same day or the next morning.

Prop. 8, approved by the voters in November 2008, amended the California Constitution to overturn a May 2008 state Supreme Court ruling that allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry.

The lawsuit by two same-sex couples, a gay-rights group and the city of San Francisco claims the initiative violates the U.S. constitutional guarantee of equal protection by discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender. The nonjury trial, the first in any U.S. court on same-sex marriage, begins Monday and is scheduled to last two to three weeks.

Walker’s decision on Proposition 8’s constitutionality is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The California Supreme Court has upheld Proposition 8 as a valid amendment of the state Constitution. The federal case is based on federal constitutional challenges.

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