Courts Are Public

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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16 Responses

  1. Saul DeGraw says:

    This seems like one of those flaps that is going to be overturned on appeal because of his stature and importance as a Supreme Court reporter.

    Do the Justices themselves have any say in who is and who is not given press passes?

    I wonder if Dahlia Lithwick is next.Report

    • zic in reply to Saul DeGraw says:

      But who does one appeal to in this?

      The SC is the ultimate, and final appeal.

      Not good. Thanks for the post, Burt.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to zic says:

        I presume the Chief Justice possesses the power to remedy this.

        This is based in part on the extension of press credentials from the Senate. Which boggles my mind because SCOTUS is an entirely different branch of government than the Senate.

        Chief Justice Roberts is far from oblivious to things like this and I can only presume that he will step in to remedy the situation, at least with respect to Mr. Denniston’s pass.

        As for the crying shame that the Court hides its oral argument chamber from the cameras while still letting people physically in to observe the proceedings, that may take a while longer.Report

      • Nob Akimoto in reply to zic says:

        Ultimately the people they’re undermining with hamfisted handling of public relations is their own credibility. Which in turn damages the constitutional role of the courts as being a check on the other branches. I think that’s also partly why the FISC is as controversial as it is, there’s now layers of secrecy to the judicial branch’s deliberations.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to zic says:


        Do you think there’s any justice to the worry that counsel and justices will start playing to the cameras?Report

      • Saul DeGraw in reply to zic says:


        Whenever there is a press or permit for speech, there is a Constitutionally required appeals process.Report

      • zic in reply to zic says:

        I’m glad to hear this; and the court system would here it because it’s a Congressional Process, no? Which court would have jurisdiction?

        Is there still a bias against blogging as legitimate media that has to qualify for a press pass? That’s so last decade. Scotus Blog performs a significant public service in covering the court; they’re the C-Span of the court.Report

  2. Mike Schilling says:

    Is there any public explanation for this? It feels like a lot of other cases where someone isn’t a real journalist, he’s just a blogger.Report

  3. Morat20 says:

    Frankly, they should be broadcasting court cases like CSPAN does. Ultimately, it’s probably going to take Congress requiring it before they will.

    Blah-blah-dignity-of-the-court-blah-blah *eyeroll*Report

    • J@m3z Aitch in reply to Morat20 says:

      Does Congress have authority to do so? Separation of powers and coequal branches,
      you know.Report

      • zic in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Well, Congress seemingly has the ability to deny a press pass to a blogger.

        There is an unseemly question here of why Congress might be determining these things; they, more then the S.C., could be influenced by money in determining press access. My inner conspiracy-theorist would wonder if someone was lobbied to this end; I’m sure there’s some reason to see advantage in filling the niche Scotus Blog filled, and opportunity if its reporters couldn’t provide content through lack of access.Report

      • J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        I’d guess that was just about the Court finding it convenient to free ride in some administrative work Congress was going to do anyway. Congress’s denial of a press pass constrains SCOTUS not one whit; it just means they might have to do a bit of that admin task on their own after all.Report

      • zic in reply to J@m3z Aitch says:

        Probably, but there’s no paranoid fantasy of conspiracy and mistrust to be had in that, is there?Report

  4. notme says:

    Yes the courts are public, and we all get access but your job doesn’t guarantee you preferential access. So I’m not sure why the title is the “courts are public” as if the subject is being denied access.Report

  5. Am I reading the SCOTUSBlog tweet wrong? Because it sounds to me like they’re talking about press passes for the Senate, on the Supreme CourtReport