Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Press Pass For SCOTUSblog

Earlier this summer, news outlets like the ABA Journal and the NYTimes reported on the denial of a press pass for SCOTUSblog.

"As the Supreme Court began to issue the final rulings of the term, 60,000 people — including journalists at major news outlets around the country — were following the live feed of Scotusblog, a website devoted to covering every warp and woof of the court’s complex litigation. Since its inception in 2002, the site has become required reading for Supreme Court news and analysis, winning multiple awards.

Yet Scotusblog’s ability to cover the court remains precarious because it has repeatedly been denied a press credential."

As the NYTimes noted, "[t]he Supreme Court has traditionally recognized credentials issued by the Senate’s Standing Committee of Correspondents, which is made up of journalists from mainstream news organizations. In April, the committee denied Scotusblog’s latest request for a credential because its founder and publisher, Tom Goldstein, is a lawyer whose firm argues regularly before the court. The committee said that that violates its rule against lobbying the federal government. It also said the site is not independent from Mr. Goldstein’s firm."

The paper went not to say that "litigating is not lobbying," and Mr. Goldstein "has erected firewalls to assure that the firm’s work does not editorially influence the blog." There are other credentialed folks who are much closer to breaking this lobbying rule than SCOTUSblog.

And SCOTUSblog meets any professional standards as evinced by its audience. "Its importance is demonstrated by its audience, which is not just top journalists and members of the public. According to the site’s internal data, Scotusblog’s single biggest user is the Supreme Court itself."

It is time for SCOTUSblog to have a traditional press pass. It has proven to be very reputable since its inception in 2002. It's a wonderful research tool and aggregates Supreme Court content in a user-friendly way. It is invaluable for the Supreme Court, lawyers, and law students in Moot Court, among others.

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