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FTC Writes to D.C. Circuit Urging Video for U.S. v. Trump Appeal

Here’s our letter from earlier today:

Dear Chief Judge Srinivasan:

I write to urge the D.C. Circuit to provide a live video feed of arguments in 23-3228, United States v. Donald J. Trump, on the court’s YouTube page when the case argued tomorrow, Jan. 9, at 9:30 a.m.

As the executive director of an organization that advocates for greater transparency in the federal judiciary, I am greatly appreciative of the Circuit’s leadership in issues related to broadcast, from being among the first to post same-day audio of arguments online, in 2013, and by again being among the first, in 2018, to establish a policy of live audio for all public proceedings.

Fast-forward to today, when in the interim we’ve had many circuits — the Second, Third, Seventh, Ninth and Eleventh — selectively permit video access to their arguments — some live, and some on a delay. These examples are noteworthy seeing as how there’s no question that Courtroom 31 will not be able to hold every member of the press and public interested in watching tomorrow’s arguments.

Neither will the overflow room.

I am asking here that members of the public, no matter where they live, be granted the same access to audio and video that members of the press will have in that overflow room. The heightened interest in this case cannot be overstated, but more to the point, I believe it’s important to show the American people that the leading federal appeals court can conduct a Trump-related proceeding with dignity and courtesy — in contrast to what many Americans likely expect, based on how over-the-top political rhetoric continues to seep into every aspect of our lives.

Back in 2017, Chief Judge Garland granted my Oct. 19 request to livestream audio in a case, 17-5236, Garza v. Hargan, that was argued the following day, effectively kicking off a new ad hoc livestreaming policy that was formalized the next year. I urge you to make a similar arrangement here with video — and, if not, to at least consider a same-day video option, whereby the images and sound captured by the closed-circuit cameras in Courtroom 31 are posted on the court’s YouTube page tomorrow afternoon.

Thank you for taking important steps toward greater court transparency and for considering this request.

Gabe Roth
Executive Director
Fix the Court

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