AAN Weighs in on Supreme Court Audio

february 29, 2016  05:00 pm
The Supreme Court makes more than a few decisions each year affecting more than a few people. All of its cases are important but some are, admittedly, more important than others. That’s why, even as AAN has consistently pushed for greater access to Supreme Court proceedings in recent years (the Court is one place where records tend to be pretty easy to come by), we felt the need to speak out in favor of relatively immediate access to audio of two particular upcoming oral arguments.

In the not so recent past, our efforts often included letters to the Supreme Court and Congress one of two topics: (1) getting camera coverage of Supreme Court arguments and proceedings or, in the alternative (2) getting the court to provide same day audio of oral arguments and proceedings (we have also, at times, lobbied Congress ourselves in support of getting cameras in the Court). The Court always posts transcripts pretty quickly but that’s no substitute for audio, which often isn’t posted for a few days, if not longer, after oral argument, by which time their utility is lost. Effectively, only those in person at the Court get the full context of oral argument that comes from hearing the Justices and lawyers.

Our letter, signed ten organizations including AAN, requests that audio of two upcoming oral arguments be posted as soon as possible – hopefully the same day – after the arguments occur. The first case is Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole. It will be argued on Wednesday March 2 and the Court will review the constitutionality of a Louisiana law which requires that a doctor at an abortion clinic has patient admitting privilege at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. The second case, U.S. V. Texas, is also a constitutional issue, involving the “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans” program. Our letter argues that the issues in these cases fall into that “admittedly more important than others” category, given that they will affect millions of Americans. Therefore, granting near immediate access to audio of the arguments is necessary to ensure that more than just Washington insiders can listen for themselves.