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The Press Wasn't Allowed to Record Justice Barrett's Talk in Louisville. That's Ridiculous (And Self-Defeating), And We Want to Know Why

When Justice Gorsuch spoke at the University of Louisville in 2017, there was some fairly heated back and forth between the University of Louisville press staff and the Supreme Court press staff over Gorsuch’s decision to prohibit any electronic recording of the event.

No video. No audio. Just pen and paper.

An exasperated then-U of L media director Mark Hebert wrote to the SCOTUS media team weeks before Gorsuch’s talk:

“We’ve never had a guest speaker at the McConnell Center ask us to bar TV and radio recordings, including Chief Justice John Roberts (2009) and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (2000). […]

“We would respectfully ask Justice Gorsuch and/or your office to reconsider those restrictions.” (Gorsuch didn’t.)

We know about this, and received the above-quoted email, thanks to a public records request we sent to the university last year.

So today, we sent another request, below, which we hope will help us get to the bottom of why these unnecessary, and ultimately self-defeating from Justice Barrett’s perspective, restrictions were put in place for the newest justice’s Sept. 12 talk hosted by the university’s McConnell Center.

We’ll let you know if and when we receive a response.


Dear Open Records Officer:

Pursuant to the Kentucky Open Records Act, I request access to and copies of the following:

Any and all email and physical correspondence between Office of the President administrators Michael Wade Smith ( and Victoria Schulz (; Office of Communications & Marketing administrator John Karman (; and/or McConnell Center administrators Gary L. Gregg (, Jessica Freels (, Natalie Smith (, Sherry Allen (, and GlyptusAnn Grider Jones ( and the staff of the Supreme Court of the United States — i.e., individuals whose emails addresses end in “,” or whose address is “One First Street NE, Washington, DC, 20543” — between Sept. 26, 2020, and Sept. 13, 2021.

As Fix the Court is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and in light of the regular publication and dissemination activities in which it engages, I request that any fees that may be associated with this request be waived. This request is not for commercial purposes, and the release of the information requested is not in Fix the Court’s financial interest. Fix the Court’s mission is to advance the public interest by promoting accountability in the federal judiciary and from its judges, justices and nominees.

If this request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify all withholdings and deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the law. Thank you for your assistance.

Gabe Roth
Executive Director
Fix the Court

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