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Posted at 12:33 PM ET, 12/ 7/2010

Prop 8 case: A success for cameras in the court

By Eva Rodriguez

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

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.

By Eva Rodriguez  | December 7, 2010; 12:33 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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Heh-heh. She said, "lay-man."

Posted by: Ralphinjersey | December 7, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

If the people of the United States of America cannot determine what they approve, then the democracy of for and by the people is dead. Instead we would have a 'democracy' by unelected judiciary fiat. If the judiciary 'sees' gay rights in the 'pursuit of happiness', then it should tell us what all other 'rights' they may approve that make 'some' people 'happy'. Constitutionality is in the context of the culture of the time of the Constitution, not the context of today's culture which is to what this outlier judiciary points. 'Any' behavior was not approved by the founders in contrast to the 'anything goes' culture of today. Saying that the courts should decide means that the people cannot - democracy would be dead. A revolution would be sure to follow.

Posted by: striderrt | December 7, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The second hour was interesting, a lot moreso than the tedious issue of "standing".

I look forward to seeing Prop 8 struck down, as its intention was nothing more than an attempt to create an artificial "second-class" of citizenship in California. This is something that violates both the letter, and the spirit, of the US Constitution, and even the California Constitution prior to the Initiative Amendment.
There is no demonstrable injury to tradition marriage, in principle, or by example, if same-sex couples are permitted to share it. Civil Unions really are no more than a modern-day "colored" drinking fountain, a means of discrimination that serves no positive social purpose.
Unless I am very mistaken, it would appear the Justices of the 9th Circuit are leaning in that direction also.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | December 7, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

OldUncleTom; all,

actually ALL federal appeals court proceedings (including the SCOTUS) should be OPEN to the public on TV, so that "us regular people" can SEE/HEAR what "OUR RULERS in black robes" are doing.

IF this happens in the future, those of us who favor a MUCH MORE LIMITED role for the judiciary & ELECTING all federal judges will be FAR ahead of where we are now. = our founding fathers would be HORRIFIED & DISGUSTED to see the judiciary being "the senior partner" (rather than a EQUAL partner) in the three co-equal branches of government.

to our "homosexual activists", who may be reading this post: "same sex marriage" is NO more protected by The Constitution than necrophilia is.
further, it makes you LOOK FOOLISH and/or DISHONEST to even suggest that "same sex marriage" is even anything approaching "discrimination based on race".
(as "a person other than white", i am DISGUSTED/APPALLED that anyone would even try to make that comparison, as i CANNOT change the color of skin that i was BORN with. otoh, "homosexual behavior" is just that: BEHAVIOR & can be changed/modified.)

to all: IF you are as disgusted, as our membership is, with THE MESS that the leftists, BHO, the DIMocRAT extremists & other bigots/fools/nitwits have made of our nation over the last few years, come join THE TEA PARTY & help us return our government to being a CONSTITUTIONAL republic of LIBERTY!

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | December 10, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

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