U.S. court bars video coverage of gay marriage trial

Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:27pm EST
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By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that video from the trial over California's same-sex marriage ban cannot be broadcast, handing a victory to those defending the ban.

By a 5-4 vote, the high court granted an emergency request from attorneys supporting the Proposition 8 ban for a stay of the broadcasting of the trial.

The attorneys said broadcasting the trial would turn it into a "media circus" and that witnesses who testify would be intimidated.

The closely watched trial, which could produce a landmark ruling and lead to an overturning of similar bans in other states, began in federal court in San Francisco on Monday before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker.

Right before the trial began, the Supreme Court decided to delay any broadcast coverage through Wednesday while the justices considered the issue.

Walker had agreed to making video coverage of the trial available on the court's website or through YouTube. Walker acted based on a recent rule change by the U.S. appeals court based in California allowing televised coverage of some civil cases.

In its 17-page ruling, the five-member court majority said broadcasting the trial should be blocked indefinitely, pending the filing and disposition of any appeal.

The majority said it ruled without expressing any views on whether such trials should be broadcast.   Continued...