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Marriage Equality Opponents Against Broadcast of Prop 8 Closing Arguments

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Anti-marriage equality forces defending California's Proposition 8 in federal court reiterated their opposition on Monday to broadcasting the closing arguments in the trial, currently scheduled for June 16.

In a letter to U.S. district judge Vaughn R. Walker, attorney Charles J. Cooper wrote that allowing cameras in the courtroom would violate an earlier stay order by the U.S. Supreme Court, which in January blocked broadcast of trial proceedings as part of a pilot project previously approved by a judicial council of the ninth circuit court of appeals. The high court ruled that lower courts "did not follow appropriate procedures," including giving "appropriate public notice and an opportunity to comment" before allowing webcasts of the trial. Such a high-profile case, the court's majority ruled, was not suited for a pilot program.

Cooper's letter is in response to a new request to broadcast closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger by a media coalition that includes CNN, the Associated Press, Fox News, and NBC News. The group argued in part that closing arguments "will solely consist of the arguments of counsel -- and not witness testimony or evidence."

"The concerns earlier reviewed by the Supreme Court should not preclude this opportunity to enhance the public's ability to witness the parties' respective closing arguments in this case," attorneys for the media coalition wrote in a Tuesday letter.

Cooper said that counsel could still possibly include videotaped depositions of expert witnesses during their closing arguments, however.

Video clips of some of those depositions are already widely available on the Internet, including those of two defense expert witnesses, Paul NathansonandKatherine Young, who did not ultimately testify in court.

Prop. 8 backers have vigorously fought broadcasting of the trial, claiming cameras would lead to witness intimidation and, as Cooper wrote on Monday, would have "negative effects on some judges and attorneys, including distraction, grandstanding, and avoidance of unpopular decisions or positions."

Cooper's letter to Judge Walker is available here.
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