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We're Requesting Live Audio for Several Closely-Watched Hearings

Heightened interested in cases in the Second, Fourth, and Federal Circuits

Fix the Court is requesting live audio for several federal court cases of national interest, both in circuits that have previously granted such requests and in courts that have yet to livestream a single hearing.

This morning, FTC asked for live audio in the Fourth Circuit’s emoluments case, 18-2486, In re: Donald J. Trump, scheduled to be heard on March 19. FTC had previously written the court for live audio in 17-2231, Trump v. IRAP, one of the travel ban cases that was consolidated and eventually reached the Supreme Court. The earlier request was granted; today’s letter is here.

“Circuit courts often cover a large land area, and often consider issues of interest to the entire country, which means that not everyone who wants to hear an argument is able to be at the courthouse in person,” FTC executive director Gabe Roth said. “And since there is no blanket livestreaming policy across judiciary for now, the least we can do is request a livestream in the most closely watched cases, which is what we’re trying for here.”

Additionally, on Dec. 21 FTC requested live audio in 18-396, Herrick vs. Grindr, a Second Circuit case argued Jan. 7 on the extent to which tech companies and social media platforms may be held liable for abusive behavior by their users. That request was denied via voicemail. (The Second Circuit has allowed video coverage for about a dozen hearings since 1996, the year the Judicial Conference decided that each circuit could promulgate its own broadcast policies, but the circuit has yet to allow live audio.)

With the government appealing the census citizenship question case to the Supreme Court (18-2921, State of New York v. U.S. Department of Commerce), FTC will work with allies in Congress to request live audio for that case, as well, should there be oral argument in it at any appellate level.

FTC will also request live audio for the class action lawsuit on PACER fees that is currently in the Federal Circuit. Arguments in that case are expected this summer at the earliest.

The organization anticipates that several bills requiring circuit courts to adopt a live audio policy will be introduced this Congress.

Additional background:
On Oct. 19, 2017, FTC successfully petitioned the D.C. Circuit for live audio in the following day’s hearing in 17-5236, Garza v. Hargan, on the reproductive rights of an undocumented minor, and on Nov. 13, 2017, for live audio in 17-5042, Reporters Committee v. FBI, a FOIA case that involved agents impersonating journalists. On May 23, 2018, the court changed its broadcast policy to automatically grant live audio for all cases not under seal.

On Nov. 20, 2017, FTC joined with WCVE to request live audio for 17-2231, Trump v. IRAP, one of the travel ban cases that was consolidated and eventually reached the Supreme Court. That request was granted. FTC worked with Sens. Ted Cruz and Mazie Hirono on a request for same-day audio in that case, which was granted.

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