The trial that started on Monday in San Francisco over the constitutionality of California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage could have been a moment for the entire nation to witness a calm, deliberative debate on a vitally important issue in the era of instant communications. Instead, the United States Supreme Court made it a sad example of the quashing of public discourse by blocking the televising of the nonjury trial.
The court blocked the public broadcasting of the proceedings by its familiar 5-to-4 split. In a vigorous dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer correctly objected to the court's highly unusual intervention. He concluded, "The public interest weighs in favor of providing access to the courts."
The antipathy of some justices to televising Supreme Court arguments is as well known as it is wrongheaded. But the court's stance against allowing unobtrusive C-Spanlike coverage of its own proceedings should not foreclose public viewing of this case.
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