Prop 8 case: A success for cameras in the court
Anyone worried about the potential for cameras in the courtroom to create a circus atmosphere should take a peek at the televised hearings in the Prop 8 appeal. (You can probably still catch a replay on C-Span.org.)
The subject matter could not have been more contentious: whether banning same-sex marriage - as California voters did last year - is unconstitutional. A federal trial court judge ruled that it was. Yet the proceedings were orderly, respectful and downright boring at times. Quite the opposite of the rowdy and showy displays feared by opponents of televised hearings.
TV cameras aren't normally allowed in federal courts, but the San Francisco appeals court that heard the Prop 8 case made a wise exception, allowing lawyer and layman alike to watch and hear firsthand the debate over this important social matter. Many people would be forgiven for snoozing through the first hour of argument, which focused on the eye-glazing but critical issue of whether those who brought the appeal - a local clerk of court and several proponents of Prop 8 - had the legal right to do so when the state declined to defend the law. The second hour honed in on the more interesting and consequential constitutional questions. Lawyers opposing Prop 8, for example, argued that denying the same rights to gay couples offends the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection. The lawyer defending the law made the case that limiting marriage to one man and one woman was reasonable, given, among other things, the unique ability of opposite sex couples to produce offspring naturally.
Those expecting to see the kind of histrionics commonly displayed in movie courtroom dramas - picture, for example, the bombastic William Jennings Bryan character in "Inherit the Wind" - would have been disappointed in the hearing. But for those of us who favor cameras, the absence of drama was cause for celebration - and proof positive that opening the virtual courthouse doors need not interfere with courtroom decorum.
| December 7, 2010; 12:33 PM ET
Categories: Rodriguez | Tags: Eva Rodriguez
Save & Share: Previous: Prayers for Elizabeth Edwards [updated]
Next: White House on 2012 tax cut debate: bring it on
Posted by: Ralphinjersey | December 7, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: striderrt | December 7, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: OldUncleTom | December 7, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: texasnative46 | December 10, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse