Supreme court blocks broadcasting of gay marriage case

WASHINGTON Mon Jan 11, 2010 2:02pm EST

1 of 3. Same-sex couple Elizabeth Chase (L) and Kate Baldridge stand outside the federal courthouse in San Francisco, California January 11, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked a federal judge's plan to broadcast the trial over California's ban on gay marriage by posting video on YouTube.

Lawyers defending the ban filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court arguing that broadcasting the trial would turn the case into a "media circus" and that witnesses would be intimidated.

The closely watched trial, which could produce a landmark ruling and lead to an overturn of bans in other states, begins in federal court in San Francisco on Monday before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker.

Walker had agreed to limited televised coverage by taping proceedings and making them available to YouTube at the end of the day. Walker acted based on a recent rule change by the U.S. appeals court based in California allowing televised coverage of some civil cases.

The Supreme Court blocked the broadcasting of the trial through Wednesday afternoon to give it more time for further consideration of the issue.

Of the nine high court members, only Justice Stephen Breyer dissented. He said he agreed that further consideration was warranted and was pleased that order would be in effect only for a limited amount of time.

But Breyer said he did not believe those seeking to block the broadcasting of the trial had shown a likelihood of "irreparable harm."

The Supreme Court's order was at least a temporary victory for those defending the ban.

Opponents of the ban and a coalition of media organizations had told the Supreme Court that televised viewing of the trial should be allowed. They said there is a public benefit to complete access to public trials.

(Reporting by James Vicini, Editing by Matthew Bigg and Sandra Maler)

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