by Lyle Denniston | SCOTUS Blog
Splitting 5-4, the Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked any television broadcast to the general public of the San Francisco federal court challenge to California’s ban on same-sex marriage. The stay will remain in effect until the Court rules on a coming appeal challenging the TV order. The Court, chastising lower courts for attempting “to change its rules at the eleventh hour,” issued a 17-page opinion (pdf). The ruling came out nearly 40 minutes after an earlier temporary order blocking TV had technically expired.
The Court’s unsigned opinion opened with a display of pique at the trial judge and the Ninth Circuit Court for moving to allow TV broadcasts of the hotly controversial trial. Here is the opening:
“We are asked to stay the broadcast of a federal trial. We resolve that question without expression any view on whether such trials should be broadcast. We instead determine that the broadcast in this case should be stayed because it appears the courts below did not follow the appropriate procedures set forth in federal law before changing their rules to allow such broadcasting. Courts enforce the requirements of procedural regularity on others, and must follow those requirements ourselves.”
(For background on the controversy, see the Prop. 8 supporters’ original application for a stay of the broadcasting, available here)