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Supreme Court Allows Same-Day Audio In Health Case


Here's one more piece of legal news. The U.S. Supreme Court will make same-day audio available of the upcoming arguments on the health care overhaul. The court says it's responding to extraordinary public interest in the case. Here's NPR's Nina Totenberg.

NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: Because of what the cable culture has done for the other two branches of government, the court has resisted broadcasting its arguments for fear that it would undermine the seriousness and spontaneity of its proceedings. Although the court began recording its public sessions in 1955, it did not make the tape available to the general public until 1993, and even then, it was released only at the end of each Supreme Court term as much as a year after the argument actually took place.

The first time audio was made available on a same-day basis was in Bush versus Gore - the case that decided the 2000 presidential election. After that, same-day audio was made available only rarely. In 2010, Chief Justice John Roberts sought to regularize the availability of audio by making it available each week online Friday afternoons. Delaying the release by a few days seemed to address the concerns of some justices who worried about their words being used out of context in a misleading way in daily news reports.

As the health care arguments grew near, however, the drumbeat for same-day access grew louder, and the court faced the prospect of hundreds of people literally sleeping on its doorstep for days, waiting to get one of the 400 seats in the courtroom. Instead of doing that, you can hear the health care arguments by going to the Supreme Court website, where the audio will be posted each day after the argument is completed, probably at about 2 p.m. on the first two days and 4 p.m. on the last day when there is an afternoon session. Nina Totenberg, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.