Merrick Garland Merrick Garland (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi / ALM)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Wednesday announced it would soon provide live audio streaming of all its oral arguments, sharpening the court’s contrast with its more reticent nearby neighbor the U.S. Supreme Court.

The D.C. Circuit has live-streamed audio of oral arguments on request since October 2017, but the new policy beginning at the court’s next term—which begins Sept. 5—would not require individuals or organizations to ask for it. The only exception for livestreaming would be for cases “when classified or sealed matters must be discussed,” according to the court’s announcement posted online.

“This is an important additional step in bringing transparency to our proceedings,” Chief Judge Merrick Garland said in the announcement.

The Supreme Court releases same-day transcripts of oral argument, and on rare occasions—such as the argument April 25 in Trump v. Hawaii—allows the release of audio soon after the argument is over.

The high court has not explained its reluctance to provide live, real-time streaming, but one theory is that the justices wants to retain the ability to edit the audio before it is released, in case something untoward happens during the argument.

The D.C. Circuit’s first recent venture into livestreaming came last October in the case of Garza v. Hargan, involving abortion rights for an undocumented minor. Fix the Court, a group that seeks greater transparency from the Supreme Court and lower federal courts, made the request. The audio stream marked the first time the court live broadcasted audio since 2001.

The Ninth Circuit routinely allows livestreaming, and the Fourth Circuit also allowed live audio in May 2017 for arguments in a travel ban case. The Fourth Circuit’s feed last year marked the court’s first foray into a live broadcast.


Read more:

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In First, Fourth Circuit to Livestream Travel Ban Hearing

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