Travesty: Supreme Court (And Senate) Deny SCOTUSblog A Press Pass

from the shameful dept

So we just had a story about a court recognizing that, yes, blogs are a part of the media, and noted how ridiculous it was that this is still an issue in 2014. However, it appears that the Supreme Court is still living in a different century (okay, maybe not a huge surprise, since they still haven't figured out email). If you follow issues around litigation, it's likely that sooner or later you'll read SCOTUSblog, which is (deservedly) the go to source for anything related to anything having to do with Supreme Court cases. On mornings when decisions come out, it's always the first source I check, and I'm hardly alone among legal watchers.

And yet... the Supreme Court has denied SCOTUSblog's request for a press pass based on a stupidly convoluted system for which the Senate is partly to blame as well. According to SCOTUSblog:
SCOTUSblog is not now, and has never been, credentialed by the Supreme Court. The Court’s longstanding policy was to look to credentials issued by the Senate. We pursued a Senate credential for several years, modifying several policies of the blog to address concerns expressed by the Gallery. Last year, we finally succeeded – the Senate Press Gallery credentialed Lyle as a reporter for SCOTUSblog. We then presented that credential to the Supreme Court, thinking that the issue was resolved.

But the Court declined to recognize the credential, explaining that it would instead review its credentialing policy. The Court has not indicated when that review will conclude.
This is complicated further by the fact that the Senate Press Gallery has now rejected SCOTUSblog's request for a press pass, and also told the blog it will not renew Lyle's press pass -- thereby cutting off the blog to both the Senate and the Court. SCOTUSblog's Tom Goldstein does note that the Supreme Court itself has actually tried to accommodate the blog's requests for public seats, despite not agreeing to give it a press pass. The situation is clearly ridiculous:
All that said, the Senate Press Gallery’s decision to deny us a credential is important to us. We wanted the credential in substantial part because we cover Supreme Court-related matters in the Senate. Most significantly, we do gavel-to-gavel, liveblog coverage of Supreme Court nominations. We also expect to cover hearings related to the Court’s budget. So those efforts are now more difficult.

So we plan to appeal the Senate Gallery’s credentialing decision. We do not have a written list of the reasons for the denial, which makes the process more difficult. Our impression is also that the appeal may go to the same group that denied the application in the first place. If the appeal is denied, then we expect to litigate the issue. We’re now coordinating all those efforts with other groups that kindly have offered to support us.

All in all, the refusal by the Court and the Senate to credential us have always seemed strange. No one seems to doubt that we are a journalistic entity and that we serve a public function. Winning the Peabody and other awards would seem to confirm that. And the Court for years has functionally recognized us, because obviously the overwhelming majority of Lyle’s work is for us. We do not want any kind of special treatment. Credentialing the blog doesn’t give us any special power or recognition; it just makes our jobs incrementally easier. All in all, it doesn’t seem to make sense to impose burdens on us that are greater than those that apply to others who fundamentally do the same thing.
I don't think "strange" is the right word. Shameful works better. Stupid would apply as well.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Jay (profile), Apr 16th, 2014 @ 2:44pm

    Well, we can't have actual informed journalists on the premises, now can we?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    6, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 2:50pm

    route around the nonsense

    You know what they should do of course. Just get, or make, an old timey printing press, and put out a hundred pamphlets every week so they're officially "press".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    S. T. Stone, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 2:53pm

    Hmm. If the SCOTUS has nothing to hide, it should have nothing to fear from journalists, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 3:11pm

    "We do not want any kind of special treatment."

    The government only gives special treatment to those that

    A: Paint it in a positive light.

    B: Offer politicians campaign contributions and revolving door favors.

    The whole 'process' to acquire them is nothing but a smoke screen to cover up the true nature behind them.

    I agree, the government should not give special treatment. They should be equally open and transparent to all and treatment should be based on what's in the public interest and not in the personal interests of politicians. Yet, when it comes to negotiations, they give special treatment to industry interests allowing them to attend while keeping the public out. They give mainstream media outlets special treatment by granting them broadcasting and cableco monopolies. and this system of special treatments needs to end. The government needs to base its treatment on the public interest.

    Press passes to government functions shouldn't be granted as an opportunity for the media outlets that do get them to exploit their limited nature for profit. They shouldn't be granted based on what entities paint the government in the best light. They should be granted based on what serves the public interest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 3:13pm

    What does a press pass give you?

    What's the advantage of a press pass over a public seat?

    I'm speaking out of ignorance, but in an age where every member of the public can be a member of the press, what's the purpose of a press pass?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 3:15pm

    Our Supreme Court

    The last bastion in defence of a rule-set they neither respect nor interpret from the plain meaning of the language in the document that constitutes their existence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    DOlz (profile), Apr 16th, 2014 @ 3:36pm

    I'm sorry to say I wasn't aware of SCOTUSblog before this article. I have now added it to my daily readering list. Before they continue this the SCOTUS might want to review Streisand v Unwanted Publicity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 3:37pm

    Re: What does a press pass give you?

    Seating is very limited. While this is not a problem for a lot of cases, for controversial cases it means a lot more uncertainty on whether the reporter gets a seat or not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 3:54pm

    Wait, the first amendment said that journalists are required to go though some process to be "a member of the press"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    FM Hilton, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 4:44pm

    Test of stupid

    Not only stupid and shameful.

    Idiotic works for me.

    Can't have intelligent reporting of the SCOTUS by some 'blog' that goes around winning the Peabody award without proper credentials, can we?

    Can't think outside the box-that would take actual thought.

    Guess they have to win the Pulitzer to get really noticed, and even then, I wonder if anyone would notice?

    What is it with the environment down in Washington, anyway?

    I wonder if they have a sign at the city limits that says:

    "Please check your brains here. No intelligent thought allowed!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 4:59pm

    Re:

    In this case it's reasonable. Would you really want to let anyone walk into the supreme court?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 5:02pm

    Curated journalism

    We need gatekeepers to interpret Supreme Court and US Senate proceedings for us, but entities like SCOTUSblog aren't effective gatekeepers. It's also why we can't have cameras inside the courtroom.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    AjStechd (profile), Apr 16th, 2014 @ 5:21pm

    I now have greater empathy with God of the old testament. To be so thoroughly disgusted with what you've created and then allowed to become so corrupted that you simply want to destroy it all and start over. So many, including myself, have lost complete faith in every branch of government, it just seems beyond saving at this point. This may not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but it speaks volumes of the government's desperation to control and shape the media that it can't even allow the smallest of concessions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    AjStechd (profile), Apr 16th, 2014 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Re:

    Really buying into that "supreme" bit huh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 5:43pm

    Re: route around the nonsense

    They should apply for membership in the Press Club, which is in Washington DC. If accepted, then both other institutions will have a hard time denying the status.

    Of course, such an application might go either way. Is the membership of the Press Club so entrenched that they might deny just a blog? Or are enough of them former Credentialed Press members whom now blog, to see the value.

    Next up: Where to draw the line between...let's call it recognized journalism, whether it's a one person blog or a media empire, and LOLCATS.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Mark1 (profile), Apr 16th, 2014 @ 8:40pm

    SCOTUS blog

    So it looks SCOTUSblog is going with an equal protection argument. Or maybe it is a civil rights discrimination kind of case? How about unfair trade practices. SCOTUS is putting barriers in their way that other people don't have to worry about.
    I love the law. So many ways to attack the opposition.

    These guys manage to talk about legal matters in a way that an intelligent layman can understand. They should be getting preferential treatment

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    ECA (profile), Apr 16th, 2014 @ 10:51pm

    I find it entertaining

    THAT we dont MOVE Wash DC to a central location, REBUILD the WHOLE thing to something better...
    AND build accommodation for AT LEAST 1/10 of 1% of the people to watch and participate in the proceedings..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2014 @ 11:30pm

    Re: Re:

    YES. And largely for the same reasons that you would want a 'free' press (in expressions, not in cost).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2014 @ 3:15am

    Re: I find it entertaining

    Nah, just make it so that filibusters are to the death, there's a massive theatrical building (similar to the Amphitheatre) and let people pay.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Apr 17th, 2014 @ 4:21am

    Cockroaches!

    The US Congress, Senate, and Supreme Court today are like cockroaches in that when you shine a light on them, the scurry under the counter so you can't see what they are doing to poison your food and environment...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Apr 17th, 2014 @ 5:36am

    Re: Test of stupid

    Guess they have to win the Pulitzer to get really noticed, and even then, I wonder if anyone would notice?

    Peter King would! /zing

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Apr 17th, 2014 @ 5:45am

    Re:

    Yeaaaaahhhhh...

    Put the pitchfork away. Put that torch out. The problem is, we're not doing enough to challenge the paranoia and partisanship that created this nonsensical situation in the first place.

    When we've persuaded people to let go of that craziness, we'll be able to work together to vote the bums out in 2016. As it is, it's an uphill battle to persuade people to vote 3rd party because they're afraid the OTHER bums will get in and because people swing right when they're scared.

    The last thing people we need in office are anti-government zealots who are desperate to throw the baby out with the bathwater in the misguided hope that private enterprises will rush in to save us. They won't. Their purpose is to make a profit. The services rendered are a means to that end.

    What we do need is to elect officials who will respect the Constitution and uphold the rule of law. Find out who the candidates running for office are who will do that for us and let's be talking about them in our social media accounts NOW. This will help to build the consensus that will get them elected.

    Take responsibility for the governance of this country, is what I'm saying. A violent upheaval in the hope of driving out the incumbents will only make things worse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    htom, Apr 17th, 2014 @ 6:48am

    Re: SCOTUS blog

    They are getting preferential treatment; just not the preferential treatment we want them to get!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 17th, 2014 @ 7:21am

    Re:

    It's not clearly a first amendment issue. Nobody is saying that SCOTUSblog can't write about anything it wants to. They're just saying that SCOTUSblog isn't getting a special favor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Rick Caird, Apr 17th, 2014 @ 8:48am

    Re: What does a press pass give you?

    I expect it is guaranteed admission. Public seats are first come, first served.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Lurker Keith, Apr 17th, 2014 @ 8:55am

    Re: What does a press pass give you?

    From what I understand, there are also some proceedings where the public may not be allowed in (some may be for security reasons), but the press may still be allowed in to cover it.

    I was not paying sufficient attention back when I think I saw something like this happen, so I'm not sure how accurate any of this is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Georg Felis, Apr 17th, 2014 @ 10:07am

    Why not do an end-run around the system?

    Could one of the established press representatives "hire" the Scotusblog for $1 and allow them to take over their seat at the Supreme Court until the chaos dies down? Admittedly the mainstream media outlets don't like blogs, but one would think that they would have a little bit of "Them Against Us" when something like this happens to a competitor.

    But I'm an optimist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2014 @ 2:32pm

    scotusblog does not conform to mainstream media whores standards (kissing arses). That is why they are shunned by gov.

    BTW, can we have body of Justice Scalia preserved like that of Lenin? Somewhere across from Capitol? Future generations deserve it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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