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Lawmakers Seek Live Supreme Court Audio of Gay Marriage, Obamacare Decisions

Grassley and Durbin want live audio of the release of the King v. Burwell decision. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Grassley and Durbin want live audio of the release of the King v. Burwell decision. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ahead of key Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage and Obamacare, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers is making a plea to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., to provide a live audio feed of the release of the opinions.  

The signatories of a new bicameral letter to Roberts include Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley. The Iowa Republican has long joined the Senate’s leader on the letter, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., in pushing for televised coverage of Supreme Court proceedings.  

“Given the historic nature of the Supreme Court’s upcoming rulings on same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act, among other cases, we write to urge the Court to provide the American people with access to live audio of its court proceedings for the first time,” the letter said. “Today, every American has access to many of the proceedings of the legislative and the executive branches of our government through C-SPAN and live streaming online. However, even in 2015, one branch of our government remains almost completely closed from the public eye: the U.S. Supreme Court. People may disagree on the outcome of any given case, but we can all agree that the American public is better served when all three branches of our government are transparent and accessible.”  

The Supreme Court is scheduled to release opinions Thursday and Friday this week, as well as on June 29 before concluding its term, with opinions about gay marriage rights and the availability of subsidies under the Affordable Care Act in the King v. Burwell case likely to dominate the headlines from what remains on the docket.  

The letter’s signatories said they are not giving up on televised proceedings, but that they would view live audio as another positive step.  

“We continue to believe that the Court should permit live video broadcasts and support bipartisan legislation to make that happen. We look forward to a debate about the merits of permitting cameras in the Court. In the meantime, the Court should immediately permit live audio broadcasts of its proceedings,” the letter said. “[T]he Court should provide the American people the opportunity to hear in real time the arguments and opinions that will shape our society for years to come.”  

Rep. Mike Quigley, like Durbin an Illinois Democrat, spearheaded the letter in the House, joined by Democratic Reps. Jackie Speier of California, Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Ann McLane Kuster of New Hampshire, Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts, Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Jared Polis of Colorado and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.  

Durbin and Grassley were joined by several other members of the Judiciary Committee: Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken of Minnesota, along with Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.


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